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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 (Deut 31:1-8): When Moses had finished speaking to all Israel, he said to them, «I am now one hundred and twenty years old and am no longer able to move about freely; besides, the Lord has told me that I shall not cross this Jordan. It is the Lord, your God, who will cross before you; he will destroy these nations before you, that you may supplant them. It is Joshua who will cross before you, as the Lord promised. The Lord will deal with them just as he dealt with Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites whom he destroyed, and with their country. When, therefore, the Lord delivers them up to you, you must deal with them exactly as I have ordered you. Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you».

Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, «Be brave and steadfast, for you must bring this people into the land which the Lord swore to their fathers he would give them; you must put them in possession of their heritage. It is the Lord who marches before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed».
Responsorial Psalm: 32
R/. The portion of the Lord is his people.
For I will sing the Lord's renown. Oh, proclaim the greatness of our God! The Rock–how faultless are his deeds, how right all his ways!

Think back on the days of old, reflect on the years of age upon age. Ask your father and he will inform you, ask your elders and they will tell you.

When the Most High assigned the nations their heritage, when he parceled out the descendants of Adam, he set up the boundaries of the peoples after the number of the sons of Israel.

While the Lord's own portion was Jacob, his hereditary share was Israel. The Lord alone was their leader, no strange god was with him.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 11:29ab): 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)