Today’s Gospel: Mark 9:41-50
Gehenna? Cutting off our own feet or plucking out our eyes? Today’s Gospel is alarming, to say the least—but maybe that’s the point.
Maybe Jesus is warning us against complacency. Even though our lives often feel chaotic with kids getting sick at inconvenient moments, or cars breaking down just when you have to be somewhere RIGHT NOW, or any manner of calamity, it’s easy to become numb to our central purpose. We don’t mean to, but distractions and fatigue get the best of us, even when we desire to practice our faith authentically. Repetition and routine dull our focus on living each day with and for God. Perhaps we haven’t yet developed the discipline or maturity for consistent prayer and devotion.
Or worse, and much more insidious, is the pressure to conform to this world. Ever-present media hammers the messages into our psyche: “You deserve that new (fill in the blank).” “Your highest achievement is to become self-actualized.” “Money and possessions will make you happy”—except, they don’t. They only create a craving for more: an insatiable appetite for status, prestige, and the selective blindness of affluence (even when we view ourselves as merely middle class). Without realizing it, pride takes up residence in our hearts. SelfISHness overtakes selfLESSness. Caught up in the values of the world, we lose sight of the virtues of our life with God. Before we know it, we are on a road toward Gehenna.
Jesus gives us a vivid picture to shake us out of complacence. While the language is metaphorical, the meaning is not. Frequent (and honest) examination of conscience is great medicine, coupled with reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And thanks to the mercy of our God, we need never fear Gehenna, amputations, or eye-plucking!
What messages have I bought into that are in opposition to God’s way?
Holy Spirit, open my eyes to my sin, so I may repent and find healing through God’s grace. Save me from my blindness.
Copyright 2018 Leslie Lynch
Leslie Lynch lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a rescued feral-turned-sweetheart cat. She’s written three full-length novels: Hijacked, Unholy Bonds, and Opal’s Jubilee; and two novellas: Christmas Hope and Christmas Grace. She is an occasional contributor to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’s newspaper, The Criterion. Connect with her at leslielynch.com and on Facebook at Leslie Lynch Writes.
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