Most catechists can easily help students visualize and pray with particular images of Jesus during the “big seasons” of the liturgical year. During Advent, Jesus is in Mary’s womb; at Christmas, he’s Baby Jesus. During Lent, Jesus is beside us in the desert; at Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent), he’s the Suffering Servant; and at Easter, he is the Risen Christ.
But what is our image of Jesus during Ordinary Time? Finding a useful image of Jesus can be more difficult during Ordinary Time than in the other seasons of the liturgical year. This is because during Ordinary Time, Jesus appears in all his aspects:
Besides the times of year that have their own distinctive character, there remain in the yearly cycle thirty-three or thirty-four weeks in which no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ is celebrated, but rather, the mystery of Christ itself is honored in all its fullness, especially on Sundays. This period is known as Ordinary Time. (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, 43)
Even though the mystery of Christ “in all its fullness” is pretty vague, we can recognize him as Christ the Teacher.
The USCCB tells us that Ordinary Time is a time for “growth and maturation.” Ordinary Time is the “time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ.” During Ordinary Time, the Gospel readings are focused on helping us learn about Jesus and what he taught. We pretty much see and hear everything the disciples experienced and heard—stories from Jesus’ life, his parables, and his many teachings—because we, too, are Jesus’ disciples. Ordinary Time is an opportunity to claim our discipleship fully.
This, of course, begins with the adults: catechists and parents model and share what it means to be a disciple with children and youth. Here are some simple ways you can help children connect and pray with the image of Jesus as Christ the Teacher during Ordinary Time:
- When praying with or studying the Sunday Gospel, point out whenever Jesus is in “teaching mode” and ask students to picture themselves sitting at his feet, learning from him.
- Keep an icon of Christ the Teacher in the prayer space. Make sure your prayer space is decorated with a piece of green fabric.
- Remind children that they, too, are disciples, listening to and learning from Jesus. Do this often, so it becomes part of the way they identify themselves.
- Help them develop a “spirituality of growth” by discussing how they learn from hearing stories about Jesus at Mass.
- Help children understand that they go to Mass to grow to become more like Jesus through hearing him in his Word and receiving him in the Eucharist.
How do you help children know Jesus during Ordinary Time? Share your ideas in the comments.