19th Week in Ord. Time, Tuesday – 9th August 2022 — Gospel: Mt 18,1-5,10-14
Service for the abandoned
The disciples, especially the leaders, can give scandal simply by neglecting or despising the weak members. Jesus the good shepherd (9,36; 15,24) has carefully avoided giving scandal (17,27), and he calls upon his followers to do the same. From the negative theme of scandal the evangelist then turns to the positive theme of how the disciples should care for the little ones who stray. Jesus stresses the unique value of each disciple in the eyes of God. God’s providential care, expressed here in terms of a ‘guardian angel’, is personal and intimate. Jewish theology had developed the idea of the guardian angel; but the rabbis also held that only the highest of angels could see God’s face, i.e., have direct access to the divine presence. Thus, Jesus declares that it is the highest type of angels who watch over the little ones, who plead their cause before God, the Father and who are at the service of the weak and despised. The disciples, like the shepherd and the guardian angel, should experience more joy in actively saving the endangered sheep than in passively tending the sheep who are safe.