Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
If everyone could do me a favor and hold their hands up and keep their eyes open… It appears to me that everyone has both of their hands and both of their eyes. So why in the world does Jesus say in today’s Gospel reading that, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” and “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that everyone in here, including myself, has committed a sin with their hands or their eyes at some point in their lives. But as I said just a minute ago, everyone in here has both of their hands and both of their eyes. So what’s the deal?
So here’s the message that I believe Jesus is trying to convey to us with urgency– do whatever it takes to get to heaven. Sin cuts you off from heaven…so you need to cut sin out of your life. If your brain causes you to sin due to evil thoughts, try filling your mind with prayers instead. If your tongue causes you to sin by gossiping, try using your tongue to confess your sins in the sacrament of reconciliation instead. If your hands cause you to sin by fighting, instead try extending your hand for a handshake or give a hug to someone who needs it. If your heart is filled with hate, ask God to remove the hardness of your heart and fill it instead with love. If your eyes cause you to sin on the Internet, buy a filter that limits what sites you can look up. If someone needs help, stop walking past and help them.
We give scandal and become stumbling blocks to others: a) when we are unkind or unjust in our treatment of them, b) when we reject them because of their weakness, faults or sins, c) when we humiliate them by hurting their pride and damaging their self-image, d) when we discourage, ignore, or refuse to accept them, e) when we ridicule them or deflate their dreams, f) when we follow a double standard: “Do as I say; don’t do as I do,” g) when we set standards which are so high that we are unable to meet them ourselves, and h) when we become judgmental of those who are still struggling to reach a level of commitment that we feel is too low to be useful. On the other hand, we become good role models: a) when we support and guide others in moments of doubt, weakness, and suffering, b) when we increase other people’s self-confidence by accepting them as they are and enabling them to discover their hidden talents, c) when we help them to grow by inspiring and correcting them, d) when we forgive them and listen to them with patience, and e) when we make ourselves examples of Christian witnessing.
I believe strong on my heart that there is a battle going on in the lives of each of us, a battle going on for the lives of each of us, a battle between good and evil. The devil is very vigilant and at work all the time. We have good example in today’s reading of how the devil finds a way to get into our heart with jealousy and envy. The devil couldn’t stop the seventy-two Israelite elders from receiving the Spirit. However, he hoped to be more successful by enticing the Israelites to quench the Spirit through jealousy of Joshua. Demons could not prevent a man from using Jesus’ name to expel them. Therefore, they tried to stop the continuation of this man’s ministry of deliverance through the jealousy of the apostle John. Once again, the demons tried to accomplish this through jealousy. Jesus warns that if we’re jealous of other people’s hands because they work better than ours and do great things, then we should cut off our own hands rather than remain rooted in jealousy. If we’re jealous of others’ speed, strength, or health, we should cut off our feet. If we’re jealous of how others look, we should tear out one of our eyes. If you have a “jealous bone in your body,” Jesus says to take out the bone or amputate that part of your body. Jealousy is one of the works of the flesh. I remind you again that the spiritual war between good and evil is going on. We have to be vigilant and prepared to escape from the traps of the evil one and win over him for Jesus is on our side. Jesus set before us the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others. May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and joy in you, and freedom from sin and oppression.
God Bless You,