“[F]or a small delight in this passing life, [men] incur the death of their soul.” (IC 3,12,4) | “[W]hoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:19a)

|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XII: ”Of Learning to Acquire Patience and to Fight Against Concupiscence” (second entry)

Kempis’s Christ admonishes the disciple to turn from drunkenness, blindness, lust, and carnal pleasures toward the Lord by delighting in Him and doing His will.

|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 5:17-19

The Sermon on the Mount continues with this pithy selection. Jesus urges His listeners to keep the commandments and to encourage others to do the same. Failure to do so causes a great diminishment in one’s status in the next life.

|Reflection

Jesus speaks of “the least of these commandments” when addressing the crowd. Disobeying God’s law in even minor matters is wrong and offensive to Him, and it is made worse by actively encouraging others to do the same or by causing scandal just by example. Such a “small delight,” as Kempis puts it, is not worth the price of one’s soul. Yes, Jesus says that the person breaking a least commandment still may gain the Kingdom. But we know that for the unrepentant mortal sinner, such grave matter will “incur the death of their soul” and put others in danger of the same fate by involving them in the transgression or encouraging them to follow your lead.

Our call is to build up the Kingdom here on earth. Our example in word and deed indicates how important we consider this calling of ours. May we be ever vigilant to eschew sin and encourage others to do the same. Consider the words of Jesus that came immediately before today’s reading:

[Y]our light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Mt 5:16)

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