“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
When Jesus talked about leading the little ones astray, he was referring to those who are innocent, those who still have such pristine ideas of holiness, those whose faith has not been defiled by bad examples and sinful behaviours. The first thing we must do to avoid becoming guilty of scandalizing anyone is to remind ourselves constantly that innocent minds and hearts still exist.
One way the devil lures us into scandals is by making us believe “everybody is bad, corrupt, immoral or compromised.” By making us believe in such a lie, we become relaxed in sin, and without knowing it, we destroy the hearts of the innocents as well. St. Paul would tell us: “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23). It is not enough that you are doing the right thing, ensure that your action is helpful to the growth and development of the innocent ones.
When Jesus talks about giving a little one a cup of water, I believe part of that cup of water is showing good examples as well as making deliberate efforts to impart moral values on the young. Get used to doing the right thing. When your “normal” way of life is one that does not give room to sinfulness, you will do what is right regardless of who is watching
The battle against sin is the battle against the self. No wonder Jesus said: “Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?… What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” (Mark 7:18-22).
Finally, St. James admonishes us in a very hard and straightforward manner in today’s first reading with regards to giving others their due. The worst form of armed robbery is to get someone to work for you and then you refuse to pay him or her. If this is your idea of becoming rich, St. James says such wealth will rot away. Whatever we do to trample the rights and privileges of those who cannot even challenge us always comes with a reward; a boomerang effect.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to always show good examples by getting used to living above sin. Soften my heart to care for those who work for me. Amen
Bible Study: James 5:1-6, Ps. 49:14-20, Mark 9:41-50).