WHEN JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES had returned to Capernaum, the tax-collectors came to Peter and asked him if his Master paid the poll-tax for the maintenance of the temple. Peter replied that He did, and went in to get the money for the tax, but Jesus forestalled him:
“What dost thou think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive tribute or customs; from their own sons, or from others?”
“From others,” answered Peter. And Jesus said:
“The sons then are exempt. But that we may not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. And opening its mouth thou wilt find a stater; take that and give it to them for Me and for thee.”
On the way to Capernaum Jesus had observed that the disciples were bickering about something, and when they reached their house He asked them:
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
They were ashamed to answer, for they had been arguing about their rank in His kingdom. Sitting down outside the house, Jesus called all of the disciples together and spoke to them about humility.
“If any man wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all, and servant of all.”
There were some little children playing nearby. Jesus called one of them to Him and taking Him in His arms, said to the disciples:
“Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such little child for My sake, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me. For he who is the least among you, he is the greatest.”
John said that they had come on a man casting out devils in Christ’s name and had rebuked him. But Jesus corrected him, saying:
“Do not forbid him, because there is no one who shall work a miracle in My name, and forthwith be able to speak ill of Me. For he who is not against you is for you.”
He went on to speak of the reward of charity and the punishment of scandal:
“He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a just man because he is a just man, shall receive a just man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones but a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
“Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come! But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you, their angels in heaven always behold the face of My Father in heaven. For the Son of Man came to save what was lost. What do you think? If a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them stray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains, and go in search of the one that has strayed? And if he happens to find it, amen I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that a single one of these little ones should perish.”
“If thy hand is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off! It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than, having two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, ‘Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if thy foot is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off! It is better for thee to enter into life everlasting lame, than, having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire, ‘Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if thy eye is an occasion of sin to thee, pluck it out! It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hellfire, ‘Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every victim shall be salted. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes insipid, what shall you season it with? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
THE PROPER SPIRIT OF CORRECTION
“But if thy brother sin against thee, go and show him his fault, between thee and him alone. If he listen to thee, thou hast won thy brother. But if he do not listen to thee, take with thee one or two more so that on the word of two or three witnesses every word may be confirmed. And if he refuse to hear them, appeal to the Church, but if he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.”
“I say to you further, that if any two of you shall agree on earth about anything at all for which they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together for My sake, there am I in the midst of them.”
Meditation: Christ taught us the proper procedure to use in dealing with someone who is in need of correction. We must move cautiously and our action must be motivated by love, not by anger; He tells us we must be charitable and that we must not embarrass those whom we are seeking to admonish. The correction should be given privately, unless this kind of treatment fails. Even then we are to avoid causing unnecessary scandal; we may go only so far as is needed in making the matter public. If we have employees, children, or anyone else to correct, do we observe this charity recommended by Christ?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 115-118. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.