Ordinary Time Week 19: Saturday

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them...” (Matthew 19:13)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

““Then”—that is, when the Lord was preaching about chastity and saying that eunuchs were blessed. For when the Lord was speaking about the glory of chastity and saying, “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven,” some of those listening offered him their infants, boys of the purest chastity. For they thought that the Lord was praising those who were pure in body only, not those also pure in will. They did not know that the Lord did not call blessed those eunuchs made chaste by the necessity of youth but those made chaste by the virtue of continence. “But the disciples rebuked the people.” O flesh, friend of wickedness and not of goodness! Because it does not delight in the good, it easily forgets the good. But whatever evil it hears, it retains forever as though naturally planted in the heart. For a man can never forget what he loves nor remember what he hates.

Only a little before, when receiving a child, Christ had said, “Unless you become like this child here, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” But now look at how the disciples had immediately forgotten the innocence of children and had kept them back as though they were not worthy to come to Christ, even though the disciples themselves had been invited to be like children. Who would merit to approach Christ if innocent children are kept back from him? The disciples thought they were doing honor to Christ, while actually they were diminishing his glory. For just as it is a loss to a physician if the sick are kept away from him, so it is a loss to Christ not to have those he may save.” (Incomplete Work on Matthew, «Homily 32»)

Show favor, O Lord, to Your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of Your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping Your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen