26Feb 26 February. Tuesday of Week 7

1st Reading: Sirach 2:1-11

Those who hope in the Lord are not forsaken

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.
Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.
Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.
Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient.
For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation.
Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not stray, or else you may fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.
Consider the generations of old and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken?
Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.

Responsorial: Psalm 36:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

Response: Commit your life to the Lord, and he will help you.

If you trust in the Lord and do good,
then you will live in the land and be secure.
If you find your delight in the Lord,
he will grant your heart’s desire. (R./)

He protects the lives of the upright,
their heritage will last for ever.
They shall not be put to shame in evil days,
in time of famine their food shall not fail. (R./)

Then turn away from evil and do good
and you shall have a home for ever;
for the Lord loves justice
and will never forsake his friends. (R./)

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord,
their stronghold in time of distress.
The Lord helps them and delivers them and saves them:
for their refuge is in him. (R./)

Gospel: Mark 9:30-37

Whoever welcomes a child for Jesus’ sake welcomes Jesus himself

Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

BIBLE

Children’s future

The call to welcome Jesus as one would welcome a child rounds off today’s gospel. We can find him among the servants and the apparently least important people. Just as children easily find other children and quickly begin enjoy themselves at play, so we ought to gravitate towards the servants and the least. Childhood in this sense is not a matter of age only. One who feels small may also have great potential, waiting for the healing touch of kindness. To welcome Jesus as a child is to open one’s arms to the infinite possibilities that lie before us in life.

Sirach invites us reflect on our ancestors, and imitate their godly lives: “Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed?” He beautifully combines fear with confidence: “You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.” As we worry about the dangers ahead for the children of today, with climate change and a robotic bubble looming, we recall today’s advice from Sirach, “My child …. prepare yourself for testing.” But we see our  trials as united with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and we renew our hope because after three days, he rose again.


Children are welcome

With loving care our church prepares children for their first Communion and some years later for Confirmation. In these sacraments we welcome them into the family of adult believers. The value of welcoming and protecting children is strongly stated. Jesus identifies very closely with children. He even says that “anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” By welcoming children we encounter Jesus and his Father.

Elsewhere he allies himself with the most vulnerable, the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the imprisoned. Children, by definition, are among the most vulnerable. They are dependent on others for life in all its dimensions. We need not doubt that ministry to children and to young people, whatever form it takes, is a sacred ministry; it is indeed holy ground. While showing care and compassion for women with unwelcome pregnancies, we cannot give in to a culture of treating unborn children as merely clumps of  unwanted matter.


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