Causing sin means becoming an obstacle for others in experiencing God's love.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard!”
Causing sin means becoming an obstacle for others. But an obstacle in regards to what? Specifically in regards to experiencing God’s love. In fact, there are some behaviors and ways of acting that hurt people deeply to the point of demolishing their trust in the existence of love.
Some kinds of abuse, for example, prevent the victims from being able to live out the rest of their lives with the possibility of having healthy relationships and of experiencing goodness, or with the ability to feel loved and to love. Practically speaking, they can no longer sense a deep meaning for existence because what should give them meaning is blocked by trauma that acts as an obstacle. And when a person is hurt in this way, the damage is immense.
But I’m not just referring to sexual or emotional abuse. A person can be abused by being constantly judged and being constantly taught that they are wrong. We can abuse people by denigrating their uniqueness and always forcing them to pretend in order to be accepted. We can even spiritually abuse people by instilling in them not freedom but continuous guilt.
Jesus is telling us today that the way we treat others can be a help or be an obstacle. At the same time, however, he’s telling us that the way of healing is always through infinite forgiveness. Indeed, forgiveness is not a loophole for abusers, but a clever way for the victims to rid themselves permanently of what made them suffer.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.