Day 263: The Father's Generosity

Matthew 18:1-4 Becoming “like children” in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven does not mean to be immature or naive but to become “little” by cultivating inner humility and trust in God. (CCC 526, 2785)

Ch 18:5-9 These verses show the seriousness of avoiding scandal and occasions of sin. (CCC 2284)

Ch 18:6-8 “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another do to evil” (CCC 2284)

It is always a sin, but it is gravely so when the weak or innocent are involved and particularly when they are led into sin by the bad example of some in authority (cf. Mt 7:15). 

Cut it off: Christ teaches that we must endure any sacrifices and mortifications necessary to keep us from sin. (CCC 2285)

Ch 18:10-14 Little ones: While the immediate context refers to children, this phrase can be extended to all who are innocent or vulnerable (“least of these my brethren,” Mt 25:40)

Their angels: Jesus spoke here of guardian angels, who watch over human persons from conception to death. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life,” taught St. Basil (Adversus Eunomium III, I: PG 29, 656B).

Because each person’s angel stands before God the Father, in this sense the faithful share in the company of the angels and saints in Heaven. (CCC 328-329, 336)

Ch 18:10 Other ancient authorities add, “For the Son of man came to save the lost,” as verse 11.

Ch 18:14 God the Father wills that every human person be saved and enjoy eternal life. No one is excluded from his limitless love. (CCC 605, 2822).

Ch 18:15 The faithful are urged to “intervene” or give “fraternal correction” for a member of the faithful who is obstinate in breaking the moral law. It is an act of great charity to help those who have strayed from the truth in matters of faith or morals, always done with prudence and kindness. 

Let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector: The final consequence for those who refuse to listen is separation from the Church. (CCC 817, 822)

Ch 18:18 This power to bind and loose, already given to Peter, was now extended to all the Apostles in communion with him (cf. Mt 16:18-19). The primary exercise of this power today is seen in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and in the laws and disciplines of the Church. (CCC 553, 894-8986, 1444-1445)

Ch 18:20 Christ is present among us in many different ways, including in the assembly of the faithful-in the Mass, in the Sacraments, in his minister at the altar, in the Word of God, and whenever the faithful gather for prayer. He is uniquely present, however, in the sacred species of the Eucharist. It is in that great Sacrament that we receive Christ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. (CCC 832-833, 1088, 1373, 2689)

Ch 18:21-223 Forgiveness is always available to anyone who has contrition for his or her sins along with purpose of amendment, i.e., the intention not to commit sin in the future. The forgiveness of our personal sins is also contingent on our willingness to forgive those who may have offended us. The example of Christ and the virtue of charity demand that we forgive those who have offended us, neglected us, or caused us injustice. 

Seventy times seven: In Scripture, seven represents totality and completeness. Therefore, “seventy-seven” means that we must be willing to forgive others without limit. (CCC 982, 2227, 2845)

Ch 18:23-35 This parable exemplifies the kind of forgiveness Christ spoke of in verses 21-23. Although it is difficult to forget an injury, our forgiveness and prayers for that person open the way for a great showering of grace. The parable emphasizes the great mercy of Christ and the debt of sin that he has forgiven.

Ten thousand talents: this would be equivalent to millions of denarii. The sum in this parable was perhaps greatly exaggerated, precisely in order to emphasize the vast differences between the two debts. This mercy we have received must in turn be extended to others. (CCC 2843)

Ch 19:1-9 The teachings of Christ restore marriage to its original meaning and purpose as a lifelong bond between a man and a woman.

Male and female: By its nature, marriage and marital love exist for the good of the spouses and for the purpose of bearing and raising children. Through procreation, husband and wife share in the creative work of God (cf. Gaudium et Spes 50 S 1). 

No longer two but one flesh: Christ affirmed that Matrimony is an indissoluble union of a man and a woman (cf. Gn 2:24) in which the couple give themselves completely and unreservedly to one another. 

What therefore God...asunder: The Church thus teaches that the main features of Christian marriage are unity and indissolubility and that marriage has both a unitive and a procreative purpose. The Sacrament of Matrimony grants the couple grace that strengthens and purifies their union and deepens their commitment and love for each other. (CCC 1643-1644, 1654, 2364, 2380-2382)

Ch 19:6 Elsewhere in Scripture, the marriage relationship is used as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and his Church. Paul developed the theology of the Church as the Body of Christ, an identity that mirrors the “no longer two but one flesh” unity between a husband and wife in Matrimony. (CCC 796, 1605, 2380)

Ch 19:10-11 It is not expedient to marry: Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage left even his own disciples confused. To them, it seemed that such a lifelong commitment was impossible. By instituting the Sacrament of Matrimony, however, Christ provided the grace and strength necessary for a husband and a wife to remain united and faithful until death. 

Ch 19:12 God invites us to a life of self-giving if we are to reach happiness. Thus, he is the author of both the Sacrament of Matrimony and the commitment to virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God. These states of life each affirm the value of the other. As St. John Chrysostom said, “Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity,” and “whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent” (De virg., 10, 1: Patrolia Graeca 48, 540). Christ calls some of his faithful to follow him in the celibate life as religious, consecrated virgins, bishops, priests, or lay people, giving up the goods and joys of marriage and family to focus more directly and exclusively on Christ. Through this great gift and celibacy, they thus give themselves with greater freedom to the service of Christ and humanity. Celibacy embraced for the sake of the kingdom is a model of single-minded focus on Christ as the center of life. (CCC 922, 1579, 1618, 1620)

Ch 19:13-15 According to custom, Jewish children would present themselves to their fathers and teachers for a blessing. Christ used the occasion to affirm again our need for a childlike faith and trust in the Father. (CCC 2785)

Ch 19:16-22 A disciple of Christ must follow the Commandments.

If you would be perfect...follow me: This reply followed his exhortation to live the Commandments since freedom from the enslavement to sin is crucial in order to give oneself completely to Christ and his work. This recommendation to “sell all” applies to every Christian. Embracing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience-according to each person’s state in life-is necessary for Christian perfection and eternal life. 

He went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions: These words stress the importance of detachment from material goods, which ultimately impede our relationship with God (CCC 1973-1975, 2052-2053, 2075)

Ch 19:23-30 With men...are possible: Only with the grace of God can the wealthy, or anyone become a true follower of Christ. (CCC 226, 276, 308, 1058)

Ch 19:28 The Twelve Apostles represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel of the Old Testament, a sign of the continuity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant in Christ. (CCC 765)

Ch 20:1-16 This parable illustrates how the goodness and mercy of God is the same for those who respond to his call figuratively at the “eleventh hour” as it is for those who have been with him from the beginning. It teaches God’s generosity in bestowing his blessings upon others, for God’s love for each of us is infinite and specifically tailored for our needs. Our good works are not a means of earning salvation but rather a response to God’s grace and his invitation to do his will. All who respond to his grace and are made righteous by God receive the fullness of eternal life. (CCC 2008)

Ch 20:17-19 Christ knew what kind of death he would undergo and foretold his own Passion. The disciples could not envision that such a thing could happen and would not understand the necessity of Christ’s sacrificial Death until after his Resurrection. (CCC 572)

Ch 20:20-28 Discipleship involves service and sacrifice in serving the needs of others and spreading the Gospel message. Christ again referred to his suffering and Death, identifying himself with the Suffering Servant described in Isaiah (cf. Is 53:10-12) who would ransom hi people from their slavery to sin. His disciples are called to join and imitate him in his suffering.

For many: The term used here does not exclude anyone from the possibility of receiving Christ’s redeeming grace, i.e., he died for every human person; the gift of redemption requires a positive response, and those who reject that gift are eternally separated from God by their own free will. These words are used in the consecration of the Eucharist at Mass: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, / for this is the chalice of my Blood, / the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, / which will be poured out for you and for many / for the forgiveness of sins.” (CCC 440, 601-605, 786, 2235)

Ch 20:20 James, one of the two sons mentioned here, was condemned to death by Agrippa I and beheaded ca. AD 42, the first martyr among the Apostles. (CCC 2473)

Ch 20:26-27 These words of Christ are especially directed to those whom he calls to a life of service to the Church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. (CCC 1548)

Ch 20:29-34 Son of David: A title applied to Jesus indicating that he is the promised Messiah, who was to come from the Davidic line. It is not clear whether the blind men are Jews, but even many of the Gentiles had an appreciation for Jewish thought and looked for the Messiah who was to come. (CCC 439)

Ch 21:1-11 Many Jews in Christ’s day had mistakenly expected the Messiah to be an earthly king, political leader, or military commander who would liberate them from Roman rule. However, his kingdom was not of this world. Nevertheless, Jesus received a kingly reception as he entered Jerusalem and accepted the title of Messiah on various occasions. In the Church’s liturgy, the Solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Blessed is the highest!: This acclamation is part of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy…) recited at Mass. (CCC 439, 559)

Ch 21:8 Spread their garments: This gesture of the people was a sign of respect. (CCC 559)

Ch 21:9 Hosanna: This Hebrew word means literally “save (us)” but also means “long live,” indicating both praise and an acknowledgment of Jesus as the Messiah. It is also used as a word of Christian praise. 

Ch 21:12-17 The outer court of the Temple had become commercialized by merchants selling goods and exchanging currency. The merchants served a legitimate purpose: pilgrims could purchase birds and other animals for their sacrificial gifts, and moneychangers traded foreign coins for coins accepted in the Temple. Christ condemned this improper use of the Temple, and, out of fervent respect for his Father, whose house was being profaned, he drove out the merchants. (CCC 583-384, 2691)

Ch 21:18-22 By cursing the fig tree that bore no fruit, Christ emphasized the power and the importance of deeds of charity that in turn win others to Christ. The image of moving a mountain signifies what is humanly impossible but can be accomplished when our efforts are accompanied by prayer inspired by total trust and confidence. (CCC 157, 2610)

Ch 21:28-32 This parable illustrates that it is not enough to give lip service to the importance of the will of God; rather, his will must be carried out in our actions. The more virtuous of the two sons was not the one who merely said he would do his father’s bidding but the one who, although refusing at first, later repented and actually fulfilled his request. This parable applies to anyone who has purpose of amendment, especially in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (CCC 535, 546)

Ch 21:33-43 God is the owner of the vineyard, and his prophets are the servants sent to warn the laborers. When they refused to listen to the prophets, God sent his Son, who was rejected and killed. Christ is also the stone rejected by the builders, who became the cornerstone upon which his Church is built and by which it remains solid and unified through the authority and ministry of the Apostles and their successors. (CCC 443, 755-756)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you. Thank you for your Son, Jesus. Thank you for the gift of His Grace. Thank you for His teaching. Thank you for His revealing that you love us, and fight for us, and that you go after us, that you pursue us, that you don’t merely wait for us to come to you, but you race after us even while we are racing away from you. Lord God, you are the Hound of Heaven and you chase us down. Please, never stop chasing us down. As often as we run away, run after us. As often as we fall, pick us up. As often as we betray you, please welcome us home. Bring us back. Let your face shine on us and we shall be saved. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”