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
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.
Now the 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 penance.
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