14Aug 14 August. Tuesday, Week 19

1st Reading: Ezekiel (2:8-3:4)

The prophet eats the scroll, so he can speak the word of God

The Lord said to me, “But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe. He said to me, “O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, “Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.” He said to me: “Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them.”

Responsorial (Ps 119)

R./: How sweet to my taste is your promise

I rejoice in the way of your decrees o Lord,
as much as in all riches.
Yes, your decrees are my delight;
forever they give me counsel. (R./)

The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth! (R./)

Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
I open my mouth and I sigh,
in my yearning for your commands. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (18:1-5, 10, 12-14)

The greatest in the kingdom of heaven

The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

“What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”


Who is the greatest?

The kinds of questions people ask often reveal their values or what they think is most important. The question the disciples put to Jesus about Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? suggests a keen interest in status and prestige. As a reply, Jesus both did and said something very memorable. First he calls over a child to stand in front of them; then tells them (and us!) that one must become like that child just to belong in the kingdom of heaven, never mind becoming the greatest in that kingdom.

We are to become child-like not childish, child-like in the sense of an absolute trust in a loving Father. We need to welcome whatever God sends and grabs at nothing, including status and standing. Greatness comes to those who make themselves as dependent on God as children depend on parents for their existence and well-being. Jesus’ response to his disciples’ question is a vivid commentary on the first beatitude that comes earlier in Matthew’s gospel, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

One could easily weave into the homily a word on the heroic values followed by the martyr, Fr Maximilian Kolbe, who voluntarily took the place of Franciszek Gajowniczek, the young father of a family, to suffer death by starvation amid the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration-camp.

(Saint Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr)

Maximilian Maria Kolbe (1894-1941) was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a family man, Franciszek Gajowniczek, in the death camp of Auschwitz near Krakow, in World War II. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement.

One Response

  1. Brian Fahy

    Hitler and Stalin are the faces of absolute power that we remember from the last century. They ruled huge kingdoms by force and fear and lived themselves in a world of fear and fantasy. Millions died because of them and the world was plunged into darkness.

    True power in human life is not about control. It is about influence, the grace to touch the hearts and minds of others by honesty and by love and compassion. Such gentle power pours out of a child and draws everyone into the circle of their love. A child needs to be loved and cared for and a child calls forth from us all the love that lies waiting in our hearts looking for a place to go.

    A child gives us love simply by their very being and a child brings us joy simply by being itself.
    Oh to be as a little child!

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