The Gospel according to Mark (9:41-50)
Jesus said to his disciples: “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 it 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. Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
Reflection: I sometimes remember my childhood as a time where my greatest responsibilities were cleaning my room and doing my homework. I only had to keep track of and take care of myself in these limited areas. The rest of the time and all the other “things” in life were someone else’s responsibility; either my parents, grandparents, older siblings, or another adult. As I grew in age so did my share of the people and things I needed to take care of. The ultimate and lifetime change happened when I held my first child. The incredible joy far overshadowed the enormous obligation I had to this little one, however reality would soon set in. And after three more, four in total, I was responsible for a family with all the worries, stress, and dedication required to care of all theirneeds. I can’t say there was ever a time I was completely overwhelmed with my role as a father. Maybe I was too busy and tired to really feel like I was in over my head.
In today’s gospel Jesus makes it very clear there are consequences to sin and the choices that lead us to destructive behavior. Worse if we cause others to go down that road. That being said, I should have no hands, feet or eyes for I am a sinner who has made plenty of mistakes that have affected me and those around me. So, if you are like me, are we doomed to an eternity in Gehenna? The only one who can answer that question is the same person who loves us so much He came to conquer sin and death once and for all.
I am reminded of the beautiful words in 1 Timothy 2:11-13 “This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” This in no way diminishes the danger and damage of sin, but our God is patient, kind, and merciful. Otherwise, how else can we take these words from 1 Timothy. We are the salt of the earth. We persevere everyday to not lose our zeal, zest, our desire to be faithful followers of Christ even though we constantly face challenges that make it difficult. What it boils down to is we choose to pick up our cross daily and follow him. And don’t bother to put your hands and feet on the chopping block or to pluck out your eyes. We will need all our resources to preserve our peace and persevere in faith and help light the way so others can see and follow The Way.
Action of the Day: Is there an area or aspect of your life that needs to be weeded out. We are one week away from Ash Wednesday and the begening of another lenten season. Let’s take stock and dedicate ourselves to allow the fire of God’s love to cleanse us from a persistent sin so we may lead others toward not away from him.