From the Desk of Fr. Tom…
Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
There is a battle going on in the lives of each of us; a battle going on for each of our lives; a battle between good and evil. At the end of that battle in the next life we will either hear Jesus say, “you are mine” or hear Satan say, “you are mine.” Through his cross Jesus has won the battle, but it is up to us now to accept his grace and live as those redeemed by Jesus. There are manifestations of grace and manifestations of evil all around us but we can take the side of Jesus in the battle for our lives by overcoming sin and temptation.
How do we overcome sin and temptation? In our Gospel Jesus said, if your hand should cause you to sin cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled than to have two hands and go to hell…if your foot should cause you to sin cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell…if you eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell… (Mark 9:43, 45, 47)
When Jesus says to cut off our hand or foot or pluck out our eye if it causes us to sin he is asking us to avoid whatever it is that leads us to commit sin. Jesus is asking us to reflect on our lives to see if anything is leading us in the wrong direction and if so to take steps to remedy it. Perhaps for some people alcohol is an occasion to sin because it leads to committing sin. I think we could say the same about much of the trash that is on TV or in print or in other media (phone apps, internet sites, etc.) because various sins are presented as glamorous which could gradually break down our defenses and then we think it is okay to sin. It is no wonder that Mother Teresa of Calcutta was reported as saying about TV, “we have a tabernacle to Jesus in the Church and we have a tabernacle to Satan in the home.” If she were speaking now she might say the same about the computer or the phone. I know of one community of lay Catholics who decided not to have any TV or newspapers in their community. That is their way of plucking out the eye that would lead to sin. It is the same with our tongue, hands and legs that lead us to sin, we have to cut off our conversations that lead us to sin or we have to avoid our journey to a place or people that will lead us to sin. That is the only way that we can surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes. We heard Jesus saying “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” What is the righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes? How can we surpass the righteousness? Jesus teaches us what to do. This is precisely what we see Jesus doing; he places emphasis on what is in our heart and not just externals.
Jesus is asking us to reflect on our lives to see if anything is leading us in the wrong direction and if so to take steps to remedy occasions of sin and live in the grace of Jesus so that we may hear him say to us in the end, “You are mine.”
God Bless You,