Lectio Divina: Luke 17:1-6
1) Opening prayer
God of power and mercy,
protect us from all harm.
Give us freedom of spirit
and health in mind and body
to do your work on earth.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 17:1-6
Jesus said to His disciples, "scandals are sure to come, but alas for the one through whom they occur! It would be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones.
Keep watch on yourselves! If your brother does something wrong, rebuke him and, if he is sorry, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I am sorry,’ you must forgive him.”
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." The Lord replied, "If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
• Today the Gospel gives us three different words of Jesus. One on how to avoid causing scandal or scandalizing the little ones, the other one on the importance of pardon and a third one on faith in God which we should have.
• Luke 17, 1-2: First word: To avoid scandal. “Jesus said to His disciples: “It is unavoidable that there are scandals, but alas for the one through whom they occur. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones”. To cause scandal means to make people trip and fall. At the level of faith, it means that which drives away the person from the right path. To scandalize the little ones means to be the cause of their drawing away from God and to make them lose their faith in God. Anyone who does this deserves the following sentence: “A millstone round the neck and to be thrown into the sea!”. Why such severity? Because Jesus identifies Himself with the little ones who are the poor (Mt 25, 40.45). They are those He prefers and the first ones to whom the Good News will be given (cf. Lk 4, 18). Anyone who touches them touches Jesus!, Because of our way of living faith, we Christians throughout the centuries have been the cause of why the little ones have many times drawn away from the Church and have gone towards other religions. They have not been able any longer to believe, as the Apostle said in the Letter to the Romans quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “In fact, it is your fault that the name of God is held in contempt among the nations.” (Rm 2, 24; Is 52, 5; Ez 36, 22). Up to what point are we guilty? Is it our fault? Do we also deserve the millstone around the neck?
• Luke 17, 3-4: Second word: Forgive your brother. “If your brother does something wrong rebuke him and, if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I am sorry’, you must forgive him”. Seven times a day! This is not little! Jesus asks very much! In the Gospel of Matthew, He says that we should forgive seventy times seven! (Mt 18, 22). Forgiveness and reconciliation are some of the themes on which Jesus insists the most. The grace to be able to forgive persons and to reconcile them among themselves and with God was granted to Peter (Mt 16, 19), to the Apostles (Jn 20, 23), and to the community (Mt 18, 18). The parable on the need to forgive our neighbor leaves no doubt: if we do not forgive our brothers we cannot receive pardon from God (Mt 18, 22-35; 6, 12.15; Mk 11, 26). There is no proportion between the pardon that we receive from God and the pardon that we have to offer to our neighbor. The pardon with which God forgives us gratuitously is like ten thousand talents compared to one hundred denarii (Mt 18, 23-35). It is estimated that ten thousand talents are 174 tons of gold. One hundred denarii are not more than 30 grams of gold.
• Luke 17, 5-6: Third word: Increase our faith. “The apostles said to the Lord: ‘Increase our faith!’” The Lord answered: If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”. In this context in Luke, the question of the apostles seems to be motivated by the order of Jesus to forgive, in one day, up to seventy times seven the brother or the sister who sins against us. It is not easy to forgive. It is only with great faith in God that it is possible to reach the point of having such a great love that it makes it possible for us to forgive, in one day, up to seventy times seven the brother who sins against us. Humanly speaking, in the eyes of the world, to forgive in this way is foolish and a scandal. However, for us this attitude is the expression of divine wisdom which forgives us infinitely much more. Paul said: “We announce Christ crucified: a stumbling block for the Jews and foolishness for the gentiles (I Co 1, 23).
4) Personal questions
• In my life, have I been a cause of scandal for my neighbor? Have others been a cause of scandal for me?
• Am I capable to forgive seven times a day my brother or my sister who offends me, or even seventy times seven times a day?
5) Concluding prayer
Sing to Him, make music for Him,
recount all His wonders!
Glory in His holy name,
let the hearts that seek Yahweh rejoice! (Ps 105,2-3)