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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): At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, «Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?». Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, «I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes lowly like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child in my name receives me. See that you do not despise any of these little ones, for I tell you: their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly Father. What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you: when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it than about the ninety-nine that did not get lost. It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don't want even one of these little ones to be lost».

«It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don't want even one of these little ones to be lost»

Fr. Valentí ALONSO i Roig (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, once more, the Gospel reveals to us God's heart. It gives us to understand the feelings the Father in Heaven reacts with, in relation to his children. His most impassionate concern is for the small ones, those, which nobody ever pays any attention to, those who do not attain wherever the rest of the world does. We already knew that the Father, as the good Father He is, has a preference for the small children, but to day we can recognize another wish of the Father that becomes compulsory for us: «I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot 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 lowly (...) 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 being able to keep off any eventual greatness while remaining to the level of the humbler and simpler. The actual importance of each one 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, and closer to us than we think! some "small ones" that we may eventually have more forsaken than others: 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 stray any more. Perhaps, if we should 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 often and closer God's face. St. Asterius of Amasea tells us: «The parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd teaches us that we must not easily despair of those who are in danger or be slow to help them» .