(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Here we are, still celebrating the great feast of Easter! Because it is our greatest feast, we take our time to celebrate—so much time to celebrate Jesus dying and rising to new life, never to die again! Once again, though, we listen this Sunday to something Jesus says before he dies and rises to new life. Jesus says many things—so many things he needs his disciples to understand. And then he says,
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you...Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’
Jesus knows that soon he will die on the cross. His disciples will see him go away to death. They will think that he will never come back. Jesus wants them to understand that he goes but he also comes. He gives them peace now before he dies and he also gives them peace after he rises to new life. They do not need to be afraid.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid, Jesus says. These words of Jesus remind us of other words in the Holy Bible, in the Word of God. They remind us of the Angel Gabriel's words to Mary: "The Lord is with you...Do not be afraid, Mary." Mary cannot see the Lord, but the Lord is with her. She does not need to be afraid.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid, Jesus says. These words of Jesus remind us of other words in the Holy Bible, in the Word of God. They remind us of the Angel of the Lord's words to the shepherds when Jesus is born. "Do not be afraid, for see, I bring you good news of great joy!" They cannot see Jesus yet, but he is so near. They do not need to be afraid.
Could this be what Jesus means when he says to his disciples before he dies and rises to new life, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid"? Even if they cannot see Jesus, he is with them, he is near. The Good Shepherd is never far from his sheep.
Jesus' words keep reminding us of other words in the Holy Bible.
Who reminds us of these words?
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Oh. God sends the Holy Spirit in Jesus' name.
The Holy Spirit teaches us, Jesus says, everything we need to know about God,
about the Kingdom of God,
about the Good Shepherd.
The Holy Spirit reminds us, Jesus says, of everything that Jesus says.
What does Jesus say?
I AM the Good Shepherd.
How does the Holy Spirit remind us of those words?
We can think of people we know people who are like the Good Shepherd.
We can think of people we know who love like the Good Shepherd,
who call us by name,
who lead us to God.
We can think of people we know who care for us the way the Good Shepherd cares for his sheep, giving us everything we need.
When these people remind us of the Good Shepherd, who is doing the reminding?
The Holy Spirit.
God is with us.
The Lord is near.