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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Ezek 2:8—3:4): The Lord God said to me: As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you. It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: Lamentation and wailing and woe! He said to me: Son of man, eat what is before you; eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat. Son of man, he then said to me, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you. I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.
Responsorial Psalm: 118
R/. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
In the way of your decrees I rejoice, as much as in all riches.

Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

How sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your decrees are my inheritance forever; the joy of my heart they are.

I gasp with open mouth, in my yearning for your commands.

Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 11:29): Alleluia. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14): The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."

“In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Fr. Valentí ALONSO i Roig (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, once more, the Gospel reveals God’s heart to us. It demonstrates the emotional reaction of the Father in Heaven, in relation to his children. His most impassionate concern is for the small ones, those who nobody ever pays any attention to; those who do not attain whatever the rest of the world does. We already know that the Father, as the good Father He is, has a preference for the small children. But today we can recognize another wish of the Father that becomes compulsory for us: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

We, therefore, realize that what the Father values the most is not so much “being small”, as “becoming lowly”. “Whoever becomes humble… is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:4). This is why we can see our responsibility in this action of becoming lowly. It is not a matter of having been created small or simple, limited or more or less capable, but of not becoming proud, and remaining humble and simple. The actual importance of each one of us consists in resembling one of those small ones Jesus introduces us to.

Last but not least, the Gospel teaches us today another lesson. There are some “small ones”, closer to us than we may think, that we may have forsaken. Those that are like sheep gone astray; the Father looks for them and, when He finds them, He is more pleased because they come back home and do not go astray any more. Perhaps, if we try to look at those surrounding us more as sheep sought and found by the Father, than just sheep gone astray, we could also see more frequently and intensely God's face. St. Asterius of Amasea tells us: “The parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd teaches us that we must not rashly distrust men, nor lose heart when helping those who are at risk.”

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “ I am a very little soul who can offer only very little things to God.” (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux)

  • “What exactly does being a child consist of? In the sense of Jesus Christ, it means learning to say ‘Father’. Only if the filial existence lived by Jesus is preserved, the man can enter with the Son into divinity.”

  • “At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: ‘So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish’ (Mt 18:14) (...)” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 605)