14 December
Mt 11:11-15

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Jesus said, equivalently, that John the Baptist was the greatest man (or among the greatest) who ever lived.  Yet, he added, “the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  The expression ‘the least’ is the superlative form of the expression ‘little one’.  ‘Little ones’ is the term used for disciples (see 10:42; 18:6, 10, 14); so ‘the least’ is the least disciple.  The greatest man who ever lived thundered judgment, but even the least disciple knows the greater depth and the superior power of love. 

The scholars have found no satisfactory interpretation of the middle part of today’s reading.  Enough for us to meditate on the strange paradox that power is ultimately weak, and weakness ultimately powerful.  “When I am weak, then I am strong,” wrote St Paul (2 Corinthians 12:10).  Expand it from your own experience: when I fail, I learn more (and more deeply) than when I win; when I am disappointed, I begin to emerge from the fog of my illusions and touch reality; when I stop trying to surpass myself, I discover only then that I have been trying to abandon the child in me who alone will enter the kingdom of heaven….


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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