Gospel MK 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"
+Come Holy Spirit, Come Holy Spirit, Come Holy Spirit!
To “enter into Life” as Jesus says takes first a ‘cutting away’. “Cut it off!” What should I ‘cut off’ Lord? The decay that sin is causing. There are strong contrasting images in today'‘s Gospel. Jesus is sharing with us, the reality of two very different destinations: Heaven and Hell, Why? Our Lord Jesus is using a very strong image to convey what we must do with sin- with the things that get in the way between us and Him (the attachments we have to sin). We must cut them away, pluck them right out, there is ‘violence’ that must happen and that ‘violence’ is to sin.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, the “violent take it by force” (Mt 11:12). What is this “violence” we are talking about? Could it be, that holiness of life will require me to make some very decisive cuts with the past and the present, those precious things that are eating away at God’s life in my soul. In order to allow God’s very life to grow, certain things have no place in my heart…what are those certain things? There is a great danger in the human heart, to cling to passing pleasures, because they seem more ‘real’ than those in heaven. But Our Lord is already giving us the Great Hope in store for us, He is telling us, what will take place when we ‘cut off sin”- and that is, we will enter into LIFE! Could this LIFE start now? What is this ‘Life'? Yes, eternal life, but what about now? What is Jesus inviting us into? Could it be the life of Grace? God’s life in me? Holiness is a choice, I choose Christ’s Life in me, I choose to detach myself from self in order to cling to Him. I choose to forget myself and to think of God. How sad is how little we think of God. We can work very hard, very sacrificially for things we desire, but can we do this for God? Can we detach ourselves from sinful patterns because of one reason alone- because I love. I love God. What does that look like concretely in my life?
“If you hand causes you to sin” If something, that is a very part of your being causes you to separate yourself from God, “cut it off”, sever that from yourself, cost what may, no matter how painful you feel it, in your lower nature separate from it. These are strong words. What in my life, do I know what separates me from God? What sin is causing decay in my soul, and it is getting worse because it is unattended? What am I doing about it concretely? Do I realize that a habit formed becomes part of my very character? What must I “cut off” from my daily lifestyle? What am I doing about it now, today? The old adage is: It begins with thoughts-thoughts become desires-desires become actions-actions lead to habits-habits to character. What am I forging in myself today through thoughts, that I leave unchecked, unchallenged, unchanged?
+Prayer: Lord Jesus I choose Life, grant me the grace this day to cut away the things that separate me from you. Amen