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Faith Daily | 9 August 2022

PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p570

Grant to us, Lord, we beseech you,

the spirit to think and do always such things as are right,

that we, who cannot do anything that is good without you,

may by you be enabled to live according to your will;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen




GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 18: 1-14


At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.


7Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! 8“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire. 10“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. 12What 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? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Meredith Scott-McMahon


What can Jesus be asking of us in Verses 1-4? Once becoming committed Christians, most of us struggle to read, study, question and search in our quest to deepen our faith. And yet this passage seems to tell us to slough all that learning off to become like little children. Another of those examples where there are two contradictory principles to hold together at once – the lost innocence of childhood, and the knowledge we’ve gained on our journey!


The Desert Fathers sought unity with Christ through emptiness and purity of heart. ‘The message is that for us to see and to be close to God we have to relinquish the part of us that feels important and knowledgeable as a grown-up and turn in a state of not-knowing to God…’ (Richard Rohr). The credo of Brother Laurence, ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’ inspires us to practise mindful dialogue with Jesus daily.


Verses 5-9 remind us of our horror at learning of the churches’ abuse of children over many decades. Jesus’ condemnation in such extreme terms is justified in light of the devastating suffering such abuse causes in victims’ lives. We indeed have a sacred duty to protect and nurture our children, and while the exposure of this hideous misdemeanour of abuse has been painful to live through, it has shone a light into dark places, giving us a chance to root out this evil.


Verses 10 to 14 remind me of a time in my thirties when I stayed away from God for a while. When I returned to church, a verse in an old hymn moved me to tears –


‘Perverse and foolish oft I strayed

But yet in love he sought me

And on his shoulder gently laid

And home rejoicing brought me’.

Amen.


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