Dt 32:3-4ab, 7, 8, 9 & 12
The portion of the Lord is his people.
19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 3 / (White)
St. Clare, virgin
1st Reading: Dt 31:1-8
When Moses finished telling all Israel these words, he said, “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I can no longer deal with anything—Remember that Yahweh told me that I shall not cross the Jordan River. Now Joshua shall be at your head, as Yahweh has said. He, your God, will go before you to destroy these nations before you, and you will drive them away.
Yahweh shall deal with these cities as he dealt with Sihon and Og, the Amorite kings, and their land, which he destroyed. So when he has given these nations over to you, you shall do the same, according to what I have commanded you.
Be valiant and strong, do not fear or tremble before them for Yahweh, your God, is with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.”
After this, Moses called Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel: “Be valiant and strong, you shall go with this people into the land which Yahweh swore to their ancestors he would give them and you shall give it to them as their possession. Yahweh shall go before you. He shall be with you; he shall not leave you or abandon you. Do not fear, then, or be discouraged.
Gospel: Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in my name, receives me.
See that you do not despise any of these little ones; for I tell you, their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly Father.
What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you, when he ?nally ?nds it, he is more pleased about it, than about the ninety-nine that did not go astray. It is the same with your Father in heaven. Your Father in heaven doesn’t want even one of these little ones to perish.
In his great epic poem Paradise Lost, the 17th century English poet John Milton has Satan say at one point: “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven” (Bk 1, line 263). This statement encapsulates the essence of Satan, which is pride, supreme self-centeredness.
Not surprisingly, God is the very opposite. The Trinity is a trio of Persons who live only for the other Two. That is why God can be said to be the humblest Being in the whole universe. Not only does He “empty himself” and become a mere human being (Phil 2:7), but He kneels before His creatures and washes their feet (Jn 13:1-11).
That is why, not surprisingly again, Jesus in today’s gospel reading presents us a child as the model of our Christian life. Why? Not because the child is innocent (a romantic myth created by the West) but because, in the culture of 1st century Palestine, the child is aware of having no social value. It is worthless; it has no achievements to boast of; it is a nobody. When we stand before God with a child-like awareness of our having nothing we can call our own and yet with a complete trust in our heavenly Father, then we are true sons and daughters of the humble God, the God who is pure gift of self.
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