Innocence: a Precious Stone for Some; a Stumbling Block for Others

Those who persecute the righteous always lead a corrupted life. They cannot bear the weight of their conscience when virtuous men accuse them by word, and especially by example.

 

Newsroom (19/09/2021 10:11, Gaudium Press)

Thus begins the first reading of this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

“The wicked say, ‘Let us lay snares for the righteous, because his presence bothers us'” (Wis 2:12).

Annoyance. It is, without a doubt, the symptom of most illnesses. It is known that discomfort in the head can result in a simple migraine or in serious cancer; discomfort in breathing can result in a chronic disease or in pneumonia. And when you feel discomfort, it is necessary to consult a doctor, who will analyze the symptoms and make a diagnosis, indicating the necessary remedies. We have all been through times like these.

Now, yesterday’s liturgy makes a true diagnosis regarding a certain discomfort, shows us the serious illness that causes it, and offers us the remedies to cure it. In fact, it is a much more dangerous disease than all the others.

The cause of the trouble is in the ungodly

Before proceeding to our “examination,” however, it is necessary to explain well the phrase from the above-mentioned scripture. The righteous one, of himself, bothers no one; the cause of the annoyance cannot be in him. In fact, it is not the presence of the righteous that bothers the wicked, but it is the fact that the wicked are wicked that is the cause of such annoyance. And they set out to persecute the righteous, thinking that by annihilating them, they will heal or at least anesthetize the evil symptoms within. Madness of madness! It would be as if a sick person wanted to take the life of the healthy, thinking that, in this way, they would be cured. This, then, is how the wicked act.

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And what illness do they suffer from? That of a hatred of the good, born of deep envy, “one of the vilest and most repulsive sins that can be committed,”[1] the cause of all other evils, as St. James says in today’s second reading: “Where there is envy and rivalry, there are disorders and all kinds of evil deeds. (James 3:16).

Those who persecute the righteous always have a corrupted life. They cannot bear the weight of their conscience when virtuous men reproach them by word, and especially by example: the constant “Non licet tibi”[2] that cannot be tolerated by the supporters of the world and the flesh.

Admiration of innocence

On the other hand, in yesterday’s gospel we find, in Our Lord, the opposite extreme of this way of being of the wicked:

“Then he took a child, placed him in their midst, and said, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name is welcoming me”‘ (Mk 9:36).

Our Lord – Innocence par excellence – admires and protects the innocence that He Himself placed in that child. As St. Leo the Great says, Jesus “loves childhood, teacher of humility, rule of innocence, model of gentleness.”[3]

We cannot know how much it pleases Him to receive and welcome an innocent child who, for example, gives himself to Him already at the dawn of his life. We have many examples in history: Mary herself at the age of three,[4] St. Thomas Aquinas at the age of five,[5] and many others.

Let us also know how to welcome these little ones, because in this way we welcome God himself. And may He not allow the wicked to touch their innocence, forbidding them to walk the paths of holiness. Indeed, for the righteous, innocence is a precious stone and causes them to admire it. But for the wicked, it is a stumbling block that fills them with hatred.

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By Lucas Rezende

[1] ROYO MARÍN, Antonio. Teología moral para seglares. 7.ed. Madrid: BAC, 1996, v.I, p.488.

[2] latin: “it is not licit”.

[3] SÃO LEÃO MAGNO. In Epiphaniae Solemnitate. Sermo VII, hom. 18 [XXXVII], n. 3. In: Sermons. 2. ed. Paris: Du Cerf, 1964, v.I, p. 281.

[4] Cf. CLÁ DIAS, João Scognamiglio. Maria Santíssima! O Paraíso de Deus revelado aos homens. São Paulo: Arautos do Evangelho, 2020, v. II, p. 132.

[5] Cf. TOCCO, Guillaume de. L’histoire de saint Thomas d’Aquin. Paris: Du Cerf, 2005, p.29.

 

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