“It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Today’s gospel reading (Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14) has the disciples asking Jesus this question: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” (v. 1)  Jesus responds by calling over a child.  Jesus lets them know that they must be humble like a child and welcome the childlike in order to be greatest in heaven.  Despising the childlike pits us against God as we see in the words concluding the passage (above).  What acts show that “these little ones” are despised and thus in danger of being lost?  Most obviously, direct actions that show a lack of respect for others that is due them as made in the image and likeness of God.  We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt 22:39).  When we take actions that hurt our neighbor physically, mentally, or emotionally we may harm their relationship with God, if they have one, or if they don’t have one, we are certainly not facilitating the possibility, and we most definitely harm (and possibly cut off) our relationship with God.  More subtly, but of potentially much greater harm, is giving scandal by our actions.  Words skipped in this reading, but terribly important to our understanding of it, are verses six and seven: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.  Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”  We must be always vigilant against behaving sinfully, especially when others are observing us.  Talk is cheap but actions speak volumes.  May our example always be one that comports with the true Faith so that others will not be led astray but come to the fullness of the truth through our obedience to the Word, Jesus.

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