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 he...in 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)
Let’s dip back into Proverbs, shall we?
Proverbs 19:13, “A foolish son is ruin to his father…”
Yup, got it!!
We’ve heard those things about how children can be DIFFICULT to parents
They can also be HONORS of parents
Proverbs 19:13, “...and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.”
We can swap that out and say, “...and a husband’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.”
So we can REALLY say, “...and a spouse’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.”
Why is Fr. Mike venturing into this territory?
We just like the IMAGE
The continual dripping of rain is the thing
Whenever ANYONE is nitpicking, it’s just pick pick pick pick pick
It’s like the drip drip drip drip drip of the rain
We are highlighting this not to cause any problems between spouses or between Y’ALL AND FR. MIKE 😉
He likes the image
There we are
Moving on to Matthew’s Gospel
There is something REMARKABLE about Jesus’ teachings
Matthew Ch 18 talks about True Greatness and Temptations to Sin
Jesus says, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you.”
“If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.”
We talked about this before in other Gospels when Jesus says something similar
The REALITY is NOT that God wants us to MAIM ourselves
There are things in our lives that CAUSE US TO SIN that we simply TOLERATE
Many of those things can be adjusted or eliminated
The most obvious example is the INTERNET
I don’t know if you’re familiar with this
Students that Fr. Mike counsels often say, “Yeah, I'm going to sites and using different apps that I know I should not.”
Fr. Mike says, “Get rid of your phone!”
The students say, “I couldn’t possibly get rid of my phone!”
We recognize that THIS is what Jesus is talking about
NOT that he is actually encouraging people to disfigure themselves
He is encouraging people, “That thing you think you need that is causing you to sin, either AUGMENT it so that you can’t have access to things that are sinful, or you ELIMINATE it.”
Some people even get DUMBPHONES and get rid of their SMARTPHONE
They found themselves being INCREDIBLY DISTRACTED
They did not want to KEEP LIVING LIKE THIS
THERE IS SOMETHING VERY PROFOUND ABOUT THAT!!
Maybe ALL OF US regardless of where we are at when it comes to certain sins, IT IS WORTH EXAMINING
There are things in my life that I am TOLERATING that are not necessarily LEADING ME CLOSER TO THE LORD
THEY COULD BE LEADING ME AWAY FROM THE LORD!!
Speaking of going away from the Lord…
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is such an INCREDIBLE parable that we need to reflect on
Jesus says, “If you had 100 sheep and one of them goes astray, you would leave the 99 in search of the stray.” (Well, everyone except for Little Bo-Peep. She just leaves them alone and trusts them to come back!! LUNACY!! 🤪)
If you ever found yourself wandering from the Lord and he finds you and brings you back, recognize that when he finds you and brings you back, he FINDS YOU AND REJOICES
Right now, the fact that you are listening to God’s Word on Day 263, THE LORD REJOICES IN THAT!!
Even if your past or present is FULL OF BROKENNESS, the LORD REJOICES WHEN YOU LET HIM TAKE YOU HOME
At the same time when he brings us home, we have The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Jesus makes it VERY CLEAR
If we are going ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD
If we are going to RECEIVE GOD’S FORGIVENESS
If we are going to RETAIN GOD’S FORGIVENESS
God OFFERS it to us FREELY
As long as we are going to LIVE IN GOD’S FORGIVENESS
We have to be NOT DEAD ENDS OF FORGIVENESS
We have to be CONDUITS OF FORGIVENESS
If we let God’s forgiveness END WITH US and we DO NOT EXTEND IT TO THE PEOPLE AROUND US, we DO NOT GET FORGIVEN!!
We pray this in the OUR FATHER
“Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.”
If I am NOT WILLING TO FORGIVE those who have hurt me the most, then I CANNOT BE FORGIVEN BY THE FATHER!!
Even in the parable here, Jesus makes it very clear
The first servant owes 10,000 talents
That’s more than any normal worker could pay in 34 lifetimes (give or take 😉)
It was an obscene amount
Even if the servant said, “Give me time and I’ll pay back what I owe you.”
The Master would say, “That’s not possible. You could never do that.”
Then his fellow servant owes him a FRACTION of the amount, 100 denarii, which was 100 days wages
So just to recap, 100 DAYS WAGES vs. 34 LIFETIMES OF WAGES
We realize that in comparison to how WE HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD, those who have SINNED AGAINST US, it PALES IN COMPARISON
Now there are people who are listening who are part of this community who have been hurt in INCREDIBLY GRIEVOUS WAYS
In ways that for a normal human being, it would be IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGIVE
THERE ARE PEOPLE LISTENING RIGHT NOW that would say, “What has been done to me is IMPOSSIBLE to forgive.”
And that’s where we jump ahead to where Jesus tells the Apostles
When Jesus says, “It’s impossible for a rich man to enter heaven. How difficult it will be.”
Jesus says, “It’s impossible for MEN. But NOTHING will be impossible for God.”
That’s true when it comes to RICHES IN HEAVEN
It is also true when it comes to FORGIVENESS
If you find yourself in a place of RESENTMENT, BITTERNESS, and UNFORGIVENESS
Realize, “I on my own cannot forgive. So God, you need to help me to forgive.”
There are so many more stories that we could go through
We will conclude with The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
At the end of the day, everyone gets paid the same
Even the person who worked one hour vs. those who worked 12 hours
Jesus has the owner of the vineyard say, “Are you envious because I am generous?”
SOMETIMES WE ARE ENVIOUS THAT GOD IS GENEROUS!!
If you have been a follower of Christ for a long time
You worked REALLY HARD to follow after him
Maybe you have been like The Parable of the Two Sons
Maybe you were the son who said, “I will go,” and you went
Maybe you were the other son who said, “I won’t go,” but you still went anyways
You may look at others and think, “Man! These people who have wasted their lives and they’re coming to the Lord at the end! They have all these blessings and God is doing all these incredible things through them. And here I have been grinding away for my lifetime, and he blessed THEM!!”
The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Are you envious because God is generous? Would you rather that he DID NOT BLESS THEM?”
THAT’S A REALLY GOOD QUESTION TO ASK!!
Think about people in your parish who are the ones who make all the decisions
Do YOU want to be in control?
Is THAT the issue?
Do you want to be the one who says, “Oh they don’t get blessed because I have been working longer.”
When we hear it like that we realize, “Oh no. I don’t want to say that. The Father gets to be GENEROUS. He gets to bestow his blessings AS HE WANTS, AS HE SEES FIT, AS HE WILLS. And if he gives someone else more than he gives to me, then it just highlights his GENEROSITY. It just highlights HOW GOOD HE IS.”
Now at the same time, that’s HARD, isn’t it?
It’s hard as human beings to accept that
SO WE NEED GOD’S GRACE!!
WE NEED TO ACCEPT GOD’S GRACE!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
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.”