Father Ron meant well. He would never have intentionally excluded some children from his sermon. It was Wednesday mass, and the congregation was primarily children—kindergartners through eighth-graders—with a sprinkling of teachers, administrators and parents. The text was Colossians 1:15: Christ is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
Father Ron developed his theme: Children look like their parents; Jesus as God’s Son reveals what God is like. He gave examples, picking out children: “You look just like your mother. You have her eyes, her nose, her dimple.” Or: “You are an athlete just like your Uncle Sam. You have his genes.” The point was profoundly simple: We know what God is like by looking at Jesus.
Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner is professor of pastoral care at Southern Methodist University. She has served as an associate professor at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology.