There are so many places I could go with today’s first reading: it give us so many opportunities to look at leadership and the spiritual life. But I think what leapt out at me today is that Moses asks Aaron the exact right question: “What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so great a sin?” My moral theology professor in seminary, a crusty old Jesuit that never minced any words, told us that leading a person into sin is the worst thing one could do to that person. It would be better, he used to tell us, to murder them in cold blood. Now, I’m not sure I’d tell you to make that choice, but he has a point. Leading another person into sin is an act that erodes that person’s conscience, it takes them out of relationship with God and the Church. God forbid that any of us would ever lead another person into sin.
I was thinking of this yesterday before I even knew what were today’s readings. Fr. Ted and I were talking on Saturday night about the new Planned Parenthood abortion clinic near Fox Valley Mall. He told me that Planned Parenthood didn’t even tell their contractors how the building would be used, because they knew some contractors would have objected and not worked on the building. Planned Parenthood led those people into sin, just as they lead so many into sin by counseling for abortion. Now, the fact that those contractors didn’t know what the building was used for mitigates their sin, but Planned Parenthood still bears the responsibility for doing that, because leading those people into sin was clearly their intent.
To all of this, Jesus tells us that we must be the mustard seed and the leaven that brings forth the Kingdom of heaven. Even in the face of so much evil and malicious intent, just a small act of faith on our part can lead people to the Kingdom, which is our role as disciples. Saying a prayer for anyone going to the clinic might soften hearts and lead to life. A small donation to a group like Women’s Choice Services or volunteering in a Project Gabriel ministry might make it possible for a child’s life to be saved. We can be the parable that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel, announcing what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world, helping to bring people to the Kingdom, even one soul at a time.