At that hour
the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest thou is the greater
in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus calling unto him a little child,
set him in the midst of them, And said: Amen I say to you, unless you
be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into
the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this
little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that
shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But he
that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it
were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck,
and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that
scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal
cometh. And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and
cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or
lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting
fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from
thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than
having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. See that you despise not one
of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven
always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of man
is come to save that which was lost.
What think you? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them should
go astray: doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains, and go
to seek that which is gone astray? And if it so be that he find it:
Amen I say to you, he rejoiceth more for that, than for the ninety-nine
that went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father, who is
in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
publicans and sinners drew near unto him to hear him. And the Pharisees
and the scribes murmured, saying: This man receiveth sinners, and
eateth with them. And he spoke to them this parable, saying: What man
of you that hath an hundred sheep: and if he shall lose one of them,
doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that
which was lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, lay it
upon his shoulders, rejoicing: And coming home, call together his
friends and neighbours, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have
found my sheep that was lost?
I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner
that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not
Or what woman having ten groats; if she lose one groat, doth not light
a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it?
And when she hath found it, call together her friends and neighbours,
saying: Rejoice with me, because I have found the groat which I had
lost. So I say to you, there shall be joy before the angels of God upon
one sinner doing penance.
By St. John Chryostom
Seest thou by
how many things He is urging to the care of our mean brethren. Say not
then, "Such a one is a blacksmith, a shoemaker, he is a ploughman, he
is a fool," and so despise him. For in order that thou shouldest not
feel this, see by how many motives He persuades thee to practise
moderation, and presses thee into a care for these. He set a little
child, and saith, "Be ye as little children." And, "Whosoever receiveth
such a little child receiveth me;" and, "Whosoever shall offend," shall
suffer the utmost penalties. And He was not even satisfied with the
comparison of the "millstone," but added also His "woe," and commanded
us to cut off such, though they be in the place of hands and eyes to
us. And by the angels again that are entrusted with these same mean
brethren, He makes them objects of veneration, and from His own will
and passion (for when He said, "The Son of Man is come to save that
which was lost," He signifies even the cross, like as Paul saith,
speaking of a brother, "For whom Christ died"); and from the Father,
for that neither to Him doth it seem good that one should perish; and
from common custom, because the shepherd leaves them that are safe, and
seeks what is lost; and when he hath found what was gone astray, he is
greatly delighted at the finding and the saving of this.
5. If then God thus rejoices over the little one that is found, how
dost thou despise them that are the objects of God's earnest care, when
one ought to give up even one's very life for one of these little ones?
But is he weak and mean? Therefore for this very cause most of all, one
ought to do everything in order to preserve him. For even He Himself
left the ninety and nine sheep, and went after this, and the safety of
so many availed not to throw into the shade the loss of one. But Luke
saith, that He even brought it on his shoulders, and that "There was
greater joy over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine
just persons"And from His forsaking those that were saved for it, and
from His taking more pleasure in this one, He showed His earnestness
about it to be great.
Let us not then be careless about such souls as these. For all these
things are said for this object. For by threatening, that he who has
not become a little child should not so much as at all set foot in the
Heavens, and speaking of "the millstone," He hath brought down the
haughtiness of the boastful; for nothing is so hostile to love as
pride; and by saying, "It must needs be that offenses come," He made
them to be wakeful; and by adding, "Woe unto him by whom the offense
cometh," He hath caused each to endeavor that it be not by him. And
while by commanding to cut off them that offend He made salvation easy;
by enjoining not to despise them, and not merely enjoining, but with
earnestness (for "take heed," saith He, "that ye despise not one of
these little ones"), and by saying, "Their angels behold the face of my
Father," and, "For this end am I come," and "my Father willeth this,"
He hath made those who should take care of them more diligent.
Seest thou what a wall He hath set around them, and what earnest care
He taketh of them that are contemptible and perishing, at once
threatening incurable ills to them that make them fall, and promising
great blessings to them that wait upon them, and take care of them, and
bringing an example from Himself again and from the Father?
Him let us also imitate, refusing none of the tasks that seem lowly and
troublesome for our brethren's sake; but though we have to do service,
though he be small, though he be mean for whom this is done, though the
work be laborious, though we must pass over mountains and precipices,
let all things be held endurable for the salvation of our brother. For
a soul is an object of such earnest care to God, that "He spared not
His own Son."
Wherefore I entreat, when morning hath appeared, straightway as we come
out of our house, let us have this one object in view, this earnest
care above all, to rescue him that is in danger; I do not mean this
danger only that is known by sense, for this is not danger at all, but
the danger of the soul, that which is brought upon men by the devil.
For the merchant too, to increase his wealth, crosses the sea; and the
artisan, to add to his substance, doeth all things. Let us also then
not be satisfied with our own salvation only, since else we destroy
even this. For in a war too, and in an engagement, the soldier who is
looking to this only how he may save himself by flight, destroys the
rest also with himself; much as on the other hand the noble-minded one,
and he who stands in arms in defense of the others, with the others
preserves himself also. Since then our state too is a war, and of all
wars the bitterest, and an engagement and a battle, even as our King
commanded us, so let us set ourselves in array in the engagement,
prepared for slaughter, and blood, and murders, looking to salvation in
behalf of all, and cheering them that stand, and raising up them that
are down. For indeed many of our brethren lie fallen in this conflict,
having wounds, wallowing in blood, and there is none to heal, not any
one of the people, not a priest, no one else, no one to stand by, no
friend, no brother, but we look every man to his own things.
By reason of this we maim our own interests also. For the greatest
confidence and means of approval is the not looking to our own things.
Therefore I say, are we weak and easy to be overcome both by men, and
by the devil, because we seek the opposite to this, and lock not our
shields one with another, neither are fortified with godly love, but
seek for ourselves other motives of friendship, some from relationship,
some from long acquaintance, some from community of interest, some from
neighborhood; and from every cause rather are we friends, than from
godliness, when one's friendships ought to be formed upon this only.
But now the contrary is done; with Jews and with Greeks we sometimes
become friends, rather than with the children of the church.