Message of the Week

Reflections for September 27 Gospel

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is making a dramatic contrast between “life” (heaven) and Gehenna (hell). He emphasizes that no sacrifice is too great to keep oneself out of the miseries of hell. His images are shocking. Cutting off hands and feet? Plucking out eyes? Ouch! Is hell really so bad we’d rather go to heaven maimed than go to hell in one piece? Apparently so. The point is clear: we need to do whatever it takes to avoid sin and ultimately to avoid hell.  

The catechism defines this state of eternal misery as “definitive self exclusion from communion with God.” Yes, self-exclusion. God doesn’t “send” anyone to hell. Rather, someone chooses hell when he or she freely chooses something over God and won’t repent. The choice is ours: cut out the source of the sin-painful though it may be-or stubbornly march with our beloved sins straight into Gehenna. Realistically, what we choose “over”  God are not so much our physical body parts as much as a high-paying job that isn’t ethical, a favorite pastime that isn’t morally upright, or a relationship this isn’t chaste. Jesus tells us clearly today, whatever it is that “causes you to sin, cut it off.” Period.

Questions of the Week

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48: How does your faith community deal with jealousy?

Numbers 11:25-29: What do you think of Moses’ advice to Joshua?

James 5:1-6: What lures you to wealth and riches?