Children's Readings (B)
Opening Question: What was the most amazing thing you've seen lately?
First Reading: Acts 1:3-5, 8-11
Imagine if you were a follower of Jesus. You heard him say and do amazing things. He taught with God's power and healed people in God's name. He even raised people from the dead!
You traveled with him to Jerusalem, the Jewish capital. You expected him to be welcomed by the Jewish leadership and given power. After all, Jesus had a huge following. But that didn't happen. Jesus was arrested and condemned at night. The next morning he was crucified. Like many others, you ran away afraid and confused. The One you expected to save the people died like a criminal.
The leaders rejected Jesus. They hated Jesus and his followers. So they might come after you at night, to arrest and condemn you.
Suddenly, the most amazing thing happened. Jesus rose from the dead! You saw him with your eyes and touched him with your hands. Yes, you were happy to see and be with your old friend again, but you were still afraid and confused. Why was Jesus risen from the dead? What would the Jewish leaders do to you if they heard you talk about Jesus? It would take something special to answer those questions. Something amazing to calm your fears. This is what he promised:
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."
Jesus promised us the Spirit. The Spirit gives us love and life. The Spirit helps us to be brave in times of trial. The Spirit helps us when we are afraid to do the right thing. Let us rejoice God has given us such a great power for our hearts.
Bridging Question: How many of you have had a hard time learning something in school? Why was it so hard?
Gospel: Mark 16:14-20
Jesus told his followers, "Go everywhere and tell everyone about the Good News. Those who believed and were baptized will be saved. But the unbelievers will be condemned."
"These signs will follow believers:
In my name, they will throw demons out of people, they will say amazing things in different languages, they will pick up snakes, if they drink a deadly poison, they will not be hurt, and they will put their hands on the sick who will get better."
After he spoke to his followers, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven. He sat on the right hand of God. His followers went out and preached everywhere. The Lord worked with them and God's Word confirmed what they said with signs that proved their preaching was true.
Randy always had problems in school. He could see things and quickly understand how they worked. But he found it hard to read and do math. Sometimes, teachers would talk to him, even ask him questions, and he wouldn't answer them. Randy would just stare into space, as if the teacher wasn't there.
"What's wrong with Randy?" teacher after teacher would ask his parents. They shrugged their shoulders in frustration. His parents didn't know he had a problem until Randy went to pre-school. But, then, they really knew.
"What can we do?" the parents told the teachers.
"Have him tested," the teachers answered.
So, Randy was tested in second grade. His scores showed he was bright, but he barely read like he was in first grade. The parents and the teachers agreed to get him special help.
After a year, Randy was not making any real progress in spite of the special help. His reading suffered, along with the rest of his grades. He still spaced out in class.
His parents decided to have him tested by doctors. One doctor after another told his parents there was nothing wrong. Then Randy's mom had enough. "Test his brain!" she demanded. To get Randy's mom off his back, the doctor agreed. To the doctor's surprise, there was something wrong with Randy. He had small seizures. Now everyone knew why he spaced out.
"Take this medication," the doctor told his mom. "Randy's seizures should go away." At first, Randy seemed the same. But, after two weeks, the real Randy came out, bright and aware. Randy was ready to learn.
Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. Randy was still two to three years behind in his school skills. Slowly, Randy's teachers, school aides, and parents helped him to grow. Fourth and fifth grade were tough for Randy. But sixth grade, Randy's teacher inspired Randy to try harder. His reading improved. And Randy's grades went from C's to B's.
Today, Randy is in high school getting A's and B's. He still struggles with reading and writing, but he works hard and succeeds at school work. With the help of his parents, teachers, and school aides, Randy has done amazing things. He is getting ready for college.
In today's gospel, Jesus tells us to do amazing things. Fight evil. Say new things. Help people get better. Like Randy, we can do amazing things with the help of others. But the help we need ultimately comes from Jesus. He is our source for the amazing!
Closing Question: What amazing things have you done in your life? Who helped you do them? How has Jesus helped you to do them?