Sunday, September 30, 2018
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
“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.” Mark 9:42-43
Seriously? Does Jesus really mean this literally? Should we really cut off our hand if it causes us to sin? He goes on to say that we should also cut off our foot and pluck out our eye if it causes us to sin.
Some of the early Church Fathers see this Scripture as a reference to our intimate friends. The context of this passage is that we ought not lead others into scandal and sin. In fact, it would be better if we had “a great millstone” put around our neck and were thrown into the sea than to cause another to sin.
Friends, especially close friends, are a blessing most of the time. But they can also be a cause for sin. If a good friend were to intentionally try to convince another friend to sin, this is a grave issue and is the heart of what Jesus is addressing. What He’s saying is that if we have close friends who are intentionally and maliciously tempting us to turn from God, it’s better that we let go of that “friend” and cut him/her off. The hand, foot or eye is a symbol of those friends who work hard to draw us to sin. It’s better that these friendships end than to be drawn into Hell with them. And if we are the “friend” drawing others to sin, it’s better for us to cut our friendship off with those we are tempting.
One thing this passage reveals is the powerful natural bond of friendship. Friendship is a good thing. And when you have a close friend, you find great consolation in knowing your friend is deeply committed to you and will always be there for you. But every friendship must be continually evaluated in the light of faith and truth. Sometimes friendships can get in the way of our faith in God and can be a powerful influence upon us in a negative way. Of course, the opposite is also true.
Reflect, today, upon your friendships. If you have a close and intimate friend in your life, reflect upon how you influence that person or how he/she influences you. Make sure that Christ is the center and that faith always prevails in this natural bond.
Lord, I thank You for all friendships in my life. I thank you for giving me people who care. Help me to always be a good friend and to always examine my friendships in the light of faith. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Jerome