In these two verses we have a couple of sayings of Jesus which continue to be well known after two millennia. His teaching is simple, unmistakable and challenging: 1. Jesus declares that any help given to His followers will not go unrewarded. Christ's duty whilst He lived on earth was to respond in the best way possible to the sick and ill and those who were struggling for any reason. He talks here about the offer of a cup of water-which could be life-saving to a person who is dying of thirst-as an example to remind us that He does not ask us to do for others things beyond our power, but to be prepared to give the simple things that anyone should be able to give. 2. However, just as doing what we can for those in need will receive its reward, the converse is also true. Jesus states that to cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble is to earn eternal punishment in the same way as to reach out in simple ways receives eternal reward. Jesus refers here to the millstone which was so heavy as to require a donkey to turn it. If a person was thrown into the sea with that cumbersome object attached there would be no possibility of rescue. What Jesus is saying here is that to sin is terrible, but to encourage and teach another would-be innocent to sin is a far greater crime. We must be careful lest we cause another to sin whether deliberately or because of a thoughtless action or a cutting word. The best way to prevent this is to spend a short time in reflection, reviewing the good and bad things of the day just past and, when waking in the morning, to spend a few moments committing the day to the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit to protect us from this gross sin.
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