As we reflect on these words, some will say that Jesus is simply exaggerating. These words of our Lord sound harsh!
Well, of course, Our Lord doesn’t want us to literally cut off our limbs if they cause us to sin. Otherwise, there would be a whole lot of persons maimed. However, He is using these strong words in today’s Gospel for a reason. He is not exaggerating. No! Jesus uses these radical images to show us the seriousness of what He is saying!
My brothers and sisters, Jesus wants to save us from mortal danger. Sin kills the soul! We must overcome the near occasion of sin. We need to cut out whatever may become an obstacle to our salvation. He wants us to be desperate to rid our lives of the things that put us into spiritual jeopardy.
What could these things be for us today? Maybe we have to unplug the computer. Maybe we have to break off a relationship. Maybe we have to avoid a certain place. Maybe we have to cut out an addiction. Whatever may lead us into sin, we must cut off and cut it out!
Sometimes we may hear in the news about someone who is forced to make a drastic decision in order to save their physical life. For example, I remember a few years ago hearing a story of a man who was trapped in his kayak while he was on a trip in a river. His kayak and his leg got stuck under a tree in the rushing rapids and, as desperate as he tried, he couldn’t dislodge either one of them. It quickly became apparent he had a terrible choice to make – either drown in the middle of nowhere as the water got higher and higher or escape the trap any way he could.
He faced a terrible choice. He decided to snap his own leg to allow his friends to drag him to safety.
In today’s Gospel, Our Lord is calling us to recognize the same sort of desperate need to act in our own spiritual life. We too can easily get trapped, not under the weight of water, but under the weight of sin, and we need to make a desperate life or death decision. It was not
an easy decision for that kayaker to break his own leg to save his life. So too, it is not an easy decision to break off sinful ways in order to cut loose from whatever restrains us from true freedom in God.
|Child Sacrifice to the god Moloch|
We all received sanctifying grace at our Baptism, yet grave sin will separate us from God's Life. Therefore, to avoid sin, we must cut ourselves off from the near occasion of sin. We must cut out those unhealthy relationships that lead us away from salvation. We must cut out those lifestyles that contradict God’s teachings and ways.
What is even worse, Our Lord says, is when we cause others to sin, especially children and the innocent. Jesus says, “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.”
Our Lord is saying that it is serious when we influence others into what is not of God. We see this manifested in our society today in many ways.
How often young women in our day and age lose their virginity because of the pressure and influence of their boyfriends or others in society?
How easy we can lead others into sin through our words and attitudes. We can be influenced by others to cheat, steal, lie, or gossip.
My brothers and sisters, our influence on others matter! The choices we make in our lives matter!
We live in a society that has no fear of God, no fear of eternal damnation, no fear of hell! This is why we need to make desperate decisions in order to save our souls and lead other into all truth.
|Fr John Paul Shea|
As we come to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, let us remember the seriousness of today’s Gospel. Is there something God is asking you to cut out of your life? Ask God! Now pray for the conversion of all poor souls who do not know the saving power of Our Lord Jesus Christ.