Word of the day
Reading of the day
A reading from the Book of Nehemiah
In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
when the wine was in my charge,
I took some and offered it to the king.
As I had never before been sad in his presence,
the king asked me, “Why do you look sad?
If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.”
Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king:
“May the king live forever!
How could I not look sad
when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins,
and its gates have been eaten out by fire?”
The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?”
I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king:
“If it please the king,
and if your servant is deserving of your favor,
send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves,
to rebuild it.”
Then the king, and the queen seated beside him,
asked me how long my journey would take
and when I would return.
I set a date that was acceptable to him,
and the king agreed that I might go.
I asked the king further: “If it please the king,
let letters be given to me for the governors
that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah;
also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park,
that he may give me wood for timbering the gates
of the temple-citadel and for the city wall
and the house that I shall occupy.”
The king granted my requests,
for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.
Gospel of the day
From the Gospel according to Matthew
MT 18:1-5, 10
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?"
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."
Words of the Holy Father
This term, “babes”, refers to all the people who depend on the help of others, and to children in particular. Thus, children are in and of themselves a treasure for humanity and also for the Church, for they constantly evoke that necessary condition for entering the Kingdom of God: that of not considering ourselves self-sufficient, but in need of help, of love, of forgiveness. We all are in need of help, of love and of forgiveness! And this always brings us back to the fact that we did not give ourselves life but that we received it. The great gift of life is the first gift that we received. Sometimes in life we risk forgetting about this, as if we were the masters of our existence, and instead we are fundamentally dependent. In reality, it is a motive of great joy to feel at every stage of life, in every situation, in every social condition, that we are and we remain sons and daughters. Furthermore, children — in their interior simplicity — bring with them the capacity to receive and give tenderness. Tenderness is having a heart “of flesh” and not “of stone”, as the Bible says. (General audience, 18 March 2015)