The Holy Gospel according to Luke (17:1-6)
Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
REFLECTION: I remember back in the day when Connie and I were dating, Connie loved this particular movie from the 1970’s and its catchphrase. The movie was called “The Love Story”, and actress Ali MacGraw used this catchphrase in the movie. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. I assume what she was saying may mean that if two people love each other enough, then no matter what happens or what they go through, there’s no need to feel sorry or apologize for anything. WAIT … In marriage (at least in our marriage), Love means to have to say you’re sorry cause if you don’t …
When we say the “Lord’s Prayer”. One of the lines says: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. We may not think of it this way, but we are stating a promise, or pledge, and even a covenant to God. And yet, we find ourselves repeating this prayer and this promise again and again.
Let’s be clear, no one can actually cause us to sin. Sin is our own free choice, and we, and we alone, will be held accountable for our own sin. One thing that Jesus is pointing out here is that even though every person must take responsibility for their own actions and their own sins, we must also take responsibility for the ways that we act as tempters of others. Therefore, by our own sin, we will all tempt others to sin also. Sometimes we will tempt people to sin by provoking them to anger. At other times we will tempt others to sin by setting a poor example. And on the contrary, we also have the ability to “tempt” people to virtue. Or more properly speaking, to inspire and encourage them.
With that said, Jesus explains that the fate of those who act as tempters of others, it could be someone who is currently teetering on the edge of despair, confusion, anger, or any serious sin. Of course, it is even far worse if we were to actively agitate them, harshly judge them, provoke their anger, draw them into some sin of weakness and false consolation by our temptation, etc. When we fail to do so, Jesus will hold us accountable for their further fall from grace.
ACTION OF THE DAY: Think about the person or persons in your life that appear especially vulnerable, sinful, confused, and lost at this time. Who is it that struggles with anger, or an addiction or some sinful lifestyle? Ponder your attitude toward them. Are you judgmental, condemning, belittling and the like? Commit yourself to a profound love of all of God’s “little ones” and seek to serve them with the heart of Christ so that one day they will eternally rejoice with you in Heaven.