Gospel Reflection- Tuesday (9 August) – 19th week of Ordinary Time – Who is the greatest
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (18: 1-5, 10, 12-14) in which Jesus tells his disciples unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven and so, whoever takes the lowly position of the child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Fr Paul says as a methodical teacher, Matthew, gathers as much of the teachings of Jesus as he can and places them into five great discourses. He says, the Gospel we hear today is part of the fourth discourse (Chapter 18) about the internal community of the disciples. This first section of the fourth discourse teaches us how infinitely valuable a Christian is. It teaches us that there is a need to respect everyone, no matter what.
The importance of Jesus’ teaching in this Gospel is underlined by the dire warning about harming others. Matthew puts the harming others on the same level as the commandant of love but on the opposite end. The great commandment to love is the ultimate positive while the harming of others is the negative. The term ‘little ones’ in this Gospel means anyone in need and especially those who put their trust in Jesus.
This first section of the fourth discourse then finishes with a parable – the lost sheep – and this draws on the beloved Old Testament image of the shepherd caring as completely as he can for his flock and the prime example of this is God. In this Gospel the stress is on the pressing need of the disciples of Jesus to search out and look after the lost sheep.
With this Gospel and its message in mind Fr Paul says we might ask ourselves today ‘How well do I respect others? Have I harmed anyone? Have I cared for those in need?’