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From: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

The “Little Ones” and the Kingdom. The Lost Sheep


[1] At that time, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in
the Kingdom of Heaven?” [2] And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst
of them, [3] and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like chil-
dren, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. [4] Whoever humbles himself
like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

[5] “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.

[10] “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in
Heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father who is in Heaven.

The Lost Sheep


[12] “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has
gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of
the one that went astray? [13] And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices
over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. [14] So it is not
the will of My Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should pe-
rish.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1-35. The teachings of Jesus recorded in chapter 18 of St. Matthew are often
called the “discourse on the Church” or “ecclesiastical discourse” because they
are a series of instructions on the way in which His Church is to be administered.

The first passage (Matthew 18:1-5), addressed to leaders, that is, the future hier-
archy of the Church, warns them against natural tendencies to pride and ambi-
tion: even though they have positions of government, they must act with humility.
In verses 6-10 Jesus emphasizes the fatherly care which pastors of the Church
should have for the “little ones”—a term which covers everyone in need of special
care for whatever reason (because they are recent converts, or are not well groun-
ded in Church teaching, or are not yet adults, etc.)... God takes special care of
the weak and will punish those who harm them.

Our Lord shows similar concern for those who are experiencing spiritual difficul-
ties. Every effort, even an heroic effort, must be made to seek out the “lost sheep”
(verses 12-14). If the Church in general and each Christian in particular should be
concerned to spread the Gospel, all the more reason for them to try and see that
those who already embraced the faith do not go astray...

Thus, the whole of Chapter 18, the “discourse of the Church”, is a survey of the
future history of the Church during its earthly stage, and a series of practical rules
for conduct for Christians—a kind of complement to the Sermon on the Mount,
(Chapters 5-7), which is a “magna carta” for the new Kingdom established by
Christ.

1-6. Clearly the disciples still suffer from human ambition: they want to occupy
key positions when Jesus comes to establish the Kingdom on earth (cf. Acts 1:
6). To correct their pride, our Lord shows them a child and tells them that if they
want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they must decide to be like children: chil-
dren are incapable of hating anyone and are totally innocent of vice, particularly
of pride, the worst vice of all. They are simple and full of trust.

Humility is one of the main pillars of the Christian life. “If you ask me”, St. Au-
gustine says, “what is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus
Christ, I shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility” (”Letter
118”).

3-4. Applying these words to our Lord’s virtues, Fray Luis de Granada makes the
point that humility is superior to virginity: “If you cannot imitate the virginity of the
humble, then imitate the humility of the virgin. Virginity is praiseworthy, but humi-
lity is more necessary. The former is recommended to us, the latter is an obliga-
tion for us; to the former we are invited, to the latter we are obliged [...]. And so
we see that the former is celebrated as voluntary sacrifice, the latter required as
an obligatory sacrifice. Lastly, you can be saved without virginity, but not without
humility” (”Summa De La Vida Cristiana”, Book 3, Part 2, Chapter 10).

5. Receiving a child in Jesus’ name is the same as receiving Jesus Himself. Be-
cause children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity and tenderness of our
Lord, “In children and in the sick a soul in love sees Him” (St. J. Escriva, “The
Way”, 419).

10. Jesus warns that giving scandal to little children is a very serious matter,
for they have angels who guard them, who will plead a case before God against
those who led them to commit sin.

In this context He speaks of children having guardian angels. However, everyone,
adult or child, has a guardian angel. “By God’s providence angels have been en-
trusted with the office of guarding the human race and of accompanying every
human being so as to preserve him from any serious dangers [...]. Our Heavenly
Father has placed over each of us an angel under whose protection and vigilance
we are” (”St. Pius V Catechism”, IV, 9, 4).

This means that we should have a trusting relationship with our guardian angel.
“Have confidence in your guardian Angel. Treat him as a lifelong friend—that is
what he is—and he will render you a thousand services in the ordinary affairs of
each day” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way” 562).

12-14. This parable clearly shows our Lord’s loving concern for sinners. It expres-
ses in human terms the joy God feels when a wayward child comes back to Him.
Seeing so many souls living away from God, Bl. John Paul II comments: “Unfor-
tunately we witness the moral pollution which is devastating humanity, disregar-
ding especially those very little ones about whom Jesus speaks.”

“What must we do? We must imitate the Good Shepherd and give ourselves with-
out rest for the salvation of souls. Without forgetting material charity and social
justice, we must be convinced that the most sublime charity is spiritual charity,
that is, the commitment for the salvation of souls. And souls are saved with pra-
yer and sacrifice. This is the mission of the Church!” (”Homily to the Poor Clares
of Albano,” 14 August 1979).

As the RSV points out, “other ancient authorities add verse 11, “For the Son of
Man came to save the lost”—apparently taken from Luke 19:10.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 08/10/2015 9:51:41 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman &Todd

Readings at Mass


First reading
Deuteronomy 31:1-8 ©
Moses proceeded to address these words to the whole of Israel, ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old now, and can no longer come and go as I will. The Lord has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” It is the Lord your God who will cross it at your head to destroy these nations facing you and dispossess them; and Joshua too shall cross at your head, as the Lord has said. The Lord will treat them as he treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their land, destroying them. The Lord will hand them over to you, and you will deal with them in exact accordance with the commandments I have enjoined on you. Be strong, stand firm, have no fear of them, no terror, for the Lord your God is going with you; he will not fail you or desert you.’
  Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, ‘Be strong, stand firm; you are going with this people into the land the Lord swore to their fathers he would give them; you are to give it into their possession. The Lord himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be disheartened by anything.’

Canticle
Deuteronomy 32:3-4,7-9 ©
The Lord’s portion was his people.
I proclaim the name of the Lord.
  Oh, tell the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his work is perfect,
  for all his ways are Equity.
The Lord’s portion was his people.
Think back on the days of old,
  think over the years, down the ages.
Ask of your father, let him teach you;
  of your elders, let them enlighten you.
The Lord’s portion was his people.
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
  when he divided the sons of men,
  he fixed their bounds according to the number of the sons of God;
but the Lord’s portion was his people,
  Jacob his share of inheritance.
The Lord’s portion was his people.

Gospel Acclamation Mt11:25
Alleluia, alleluia!
Blessed are you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom
to mere children.
Alleluia!
Or Mt11:29
Alleluia, alleluia!
Shoulder my yoke and learn from me,
says the Lord,
for I am gentle and humble in heart.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14 ©
The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
  ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.
  ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

5 posted on 08/10/2015 9:53:35 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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