Friday, May 11: If anyone causes one of these little ones… to stumble
We return to our occasional reading from beginning to end through the Gospel of Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus' divine nature and his status as the Messiah—as the Son of David, the Son of Man, and the Son of God.
Read Matthew 18:6-9
"If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell."
Those who Jesus calls out are people who harm those he loves, the lowly, childlike loved ones he spoke of in yesterday's passage. What is it about childlikeness that makes the way of Jesus, the kingdom of God, so polarly opposed to anyone who would corrupt those qualities, even to the extent that Jesus suggests they'd be better off to maim or blind themselves rather than to face the consequences of harming others?
Jesus, we often go days at a time thinking only of ourselves, or perhaps including our very closest loved ones. Help us instead to be conscious of the effects that every one of our actions and words has on others. Give us your humility and your empathy as we interact with people, and your insight to pay the highest respect to the lowliest among us. Amen.