Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 18, 1-5.10.12-14

At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?'

So he called a little child to him whom he set among them.

Then he said, 'In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.

And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

'Anyone who welcomes one little child like this in my name welcomes me.

'See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that theirin heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.

'Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray?

In truth I tell you, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all.

Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Having completed his ministry to Galilee, Jesus sets out on his way to Jerusalem where his death and then his resurrection await him. The Evangelist notes that "at that time the disciples came to Jesus" and asked him: "Who is the greatest in heaven?" Their question reveals how distant they are from their teacher. In the parallel Gospel passage in Mark (9:33-37) we see the same scene: Jesus has just told of his Passion, and his disciples, instead of thinking about what they heard, begin to discuss who among this is the greatest. The distance between Jesus’ concerns and those of his disciples is truly incredible. Truly, it is a situation that repeats itself even among today’s disciples. How many times do we forget about the Gospel because of our own worries or our own being first! Jesus does not respond immediately with words. He takes a child and places him "among them," at the centre of the scene, and turns to the disciples and says: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." With these words begins the fourth, lengthy sermon by Jesus to his disciples, a splendid reflection on the life of the Christian community. The beginning is already paradoxical: the disciple is not like an adult, a mature individual, as we tend to think, but a child, in need of help and nourishment, a son or a daughter. The disciple is a son or daughter who must remain as such, in need of the Father to help, care and accompany him or her. And he explains to the disciples, who are struggling to understand, that whoever has a responsibility must therefore maintain the condition of being a "child." Moreover, only those who consider themselves children first can be fathers in the community of believers. In the Kingdom of God we remain always and in every way children. Jesus also puts the disciples on guard from despising the little ones, and the disciples for their angels always see the face of God. That is to say, God protects the little ones. In this line of thought, Jesus then tells the extraordinary parable of the lost sheep, so as to show the quality of God’s love for his children. He does the impossible so that not one of his little ones may be lost. It is a dimension that ought to be more evident in our Christian communities: of utmost importance should be the concern for the salvation of our brothers and sisters. In the past, it was said that the first duty of priests, but I would say of the entire Christian community, was the "salvation of souls." It ought to be so today because this is God’s main concern.