Few such strong expressions of the Lord are found as those we read in the Gospel of today's Mass. Jesus says: It is impossible for scandals not to come; but woe to him through whom they come. It would be better for him to be fitted with a millstone and thrown into the sea, than to scandalize one of these little ones. And he ends with this warning: be careful. St. Matthew situates the occasion on which these words were spoken. The Apostles had been talking among themselves about who would be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. And Jesus, to impress the lesson upon them, took a child (perhaps several of them surrounded him) and placed him in the midst of them all, and made them see that if they did not imitate children in their simplicity and innocence they could not enter the Kingdom. It is then when, having a child in front of him, he must have remained thoughtful and serious; he would contemplate in that fragile figure, but of immense value, many others who would lose their innocence because of scandals. It seems as if, suddenly, Jesus gave free rein to something that he carried within himself and that he wished to communicate to his disciples. This explains better that warning addressed first of all to those who follow him more closely: be careful.
To scandalize is to cause to fall, to be a cause of stumbling, of spiritual ruin for another, by word, by deed, by omission. And the little ones are for Jesus the children, in whose innocence the image of God is reflected in a particular way. But they are also that immense crowd, simple, less enlightened and, for the same reason, more easily to stumble over the stone placed in their path. Few sins are so great as this, for "it tends to destroy the greatest work of God, which is Redemption, with the loss of souls: it puts to death the soul of the neighbor by taking from him the life of grace, which is more precious than the life of the body, and is the cause of a multitude of sins." "What value man must have in the eyes of the Creator, if he has merited to have so great a Redeemer (Hymn Exsultet of the Easter Vigil), if God has given his Son, so that man might not die but have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16)! We can never lose sight of the immense value that every creature has: a value that is deduced from the price - the death of Christ - paid for it. "Each soul is a marvelous treasure; each man is unique, irreplaceable. Each one is worth all the Blood of Christ".