September 30, 2012: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“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.'” (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)
My goodness, this is a very powerful gospel passage! Jesus is saying that we all have a tendency to sin and because that is so, we have a responsibility to rid ourselves of whatever in us causes us, too, to sin. He says if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. I think he is using very powerful language to tell us how serious sin is, but he really does not want us to cut off our foot or put out our eye. He wants us to know how awful sin is.
In order to really understand what Jesus is saying in this scripture passage, I think it would be a good idea to imagine what it would be like to walk without one of your feet, or to see with only one eye. We are so used to having two feet and two eyes and using them all the time we are awake, that maybe we never thought about what it would be like not to have them. Try to imagine this now. Walk around your room with your eyes closed and imagine having to do that all the time, even in places where you do not know where things are. Then try walking with only one foot and see how much energy that takes. When we commit a sin we do this to ourselves. We take away our own energy–and because we are always interacting with others, we take away energy from them too. Ask Jesus to help you always to follow him.