Children's Readings (A)
Opening Question: Has anyone made you a promise? What did they promise? Did they keep their promise?
First Reading: Acts 1:3-5,8-11
Just before Jesus left, he instructed his chosen Apostles with the power of God's Spirit. He definitely showed his followers that he was really alive. They saw him for forty days after he rose from the dead. And he taught them about God's Kingdom.
While Jesus stayed with them, he gave them the following command: "Don't leave Jerusalem. Instead, wait here for the gift that I told you about, the one my Father promised you. Remember, John baptized you with water. But, in a few days, you will be baptized with God's Spirit!"
When they were together with Jesus, his followers kept asking him, "Lord, will you give us God's Kingdom now?"
"You won't know when or where the Kingdom will come. God will do that in his own time," Jesus replied. "But you will receive God's power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. You will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, and even to ends of the earth!"
After that, they saw Jesus ascended into heaven. Soon, a cloud blocked their view. As they stared at the sky, two men stood before them in shining clothes. "Hey! Men from Galilee!" they said. "Why do you stand here looking up? You saw Jesus ascend into heaven. You will see him return the same way."
Jenna was obsessed with the new summer movie just about to be released. She could hardly wait for the movie to open. Her parents could hardly wait as well.
"Dad, I've got to go to this movie! This is the most important movie ever!" Jenna said. "Promise me we'll go!"
"Okay, Jenna, okay," her dad replied just trying to get her off his back.
"You promise. Really mean it!" Jenna demanded.
"Yes, Jenna, we'll go," her dad said. That, was of course, was just the beginning.
For the next week, Jenna did not let her father forget about his promise. Finally, her dad got really mad. "Jenna, I know you want to see the movie. I promised you we would go. Isn't that enough?" That stopped Jenna cold. Yes her dad did promise to take her. He always get his promises. Why would this promise be any different?
Like Jenna' father, Jesus made his followers a promise he would not break. He promised his followers the Holy Spirit, the Force of love and hope in the world that comes from God himself. The Holy Spirit is not like the Force, because love and hope do not have a dark side. No, love and hope have the power of light, because they point to the light.
Like Jenna's father, Jesus promised to do something, to return to us. Jesus is with us in the Eucharist and in the love of the Church. But he promised to return to us in person. He will come. He will return.
Bridging Question: Has anyone made a promise to you they didn't intend to keep? Did you force them to keep it?
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven followers went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they worshiped him. But, some still had doubts. When Jesus came closer, he said to them, "My Father gave me power over everything in heaven and on earth. So, go. Make followers in every nation. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I commanded you to do. And I will be with you everyday until the end of time."
Andrew didn't like anyone telling him what to do. When his mother or father laid down a rule, he had a sour look on his face. When his parents asked him to do a chore, he made any excuse in the world not to do it. Sometimes he would ease by, not obey the rule or do the chore. But, sometimes his parents made him obey or do the chore. He didn't like that. He was independent. He just wanted to do anything he wished.
One day, Andrew's mom told him to clean his room. "After this T.V. show. It's my favorite," Andrew said. Twenty minutes later, his mom saw Andrew was watching a different show. At that point, she shut off the television. "What are you doing? That was my favorite show! I told you I would clean my room when I was finished," Andrew complained. "The last show you watched was your favorite. Now get to work," his mother replied. That started the fight. Andrew argued and said anything to change the subject. But his mother wouldn't let him off the hook. In fact, his mother would help him to clean his room.
Andrew stomped off to his room and slammed the door. His mother followed behind him and began to supervise the "great clean-up." Behind the drawers, under the bed, in the closet. Everything would be swept and mopped, and dusted. Everything.
At first, Andrew did his jobs with a quiet anger. But after a while, his anger cooled. He began to enjoy his time with his mother. With his mother there, he was getting the job done a lot quicker. Within an hour, his room was really clean.
"What did you learn today, Andrew?" his mother asked as they finished. "I learned doing something with someone else makes the job go a lot quicker," Andrew said.
"What else?" his mother prodded. "You taught me how to clean fast, but really clean," Andrew added.
"And?" his mother said.
"And, doing the job right is easier than fighting you and dad," Andrew replied.
"Could you teach someone else to clean?" his mother asked.
"Yup!" Andrew said.
Like Andrew's mother, Jesus commanded his followers to do a chore, go make followers wherever they went. Like Andrew's mother, Jesus showed them how to do the chore. He baptized people and taught them and healed them. Now his followers had to do the same, but not by themselves. Jesus promised to be with his followers no matter where they went.
Jesus gives us the same command. Go and make new followers. You start with prayer and Mass. You finish with doing nice things for them. While not everyone you invite will join you, one person will never leave you. That person is Jesus. He won't leave you because he said so.
Closing Question: What promises did Jesus make to you? How does Jesus help you keep your promises?