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Cut It Off

First Reading: James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 49:14-15AB, 15CD-16, 17-18, 19-20

R. (Matthew 5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
This is the way of those whose trust is folly,
the end of those contented with their lot:
Like sheep they are herded into the nether world;
death is their shepherd and the upright rule over them.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Quickly their form is consumed;
the nether world is their palace.
But God will redeem me
from the power of the nether world by receiving me.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
“They will praise you for doing well for yourself,”
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Gospel: Mark 9:41-50

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“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.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

“Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”

NAB

DEV_MA19

Can you imagine walking out your front door and seeing your neighbor with her eye gouged out? Or how about running to the grocery store to grab a few things only to bump into a friend whose hand had just been cut off? Maybe it was lust that resulted in a missing eye. And maybe the once two-handed person had a problem with stealing.

It seems harsh, doesn’t it? That our Lord would tell us that it would be better for a millstone to be tied around our necks and us be thrown into the sea than for us to cause one of His little ones to sin?

And our fate if we are to not to cut off what causes us to sin? Being thrown into an unquenchable fire. I know that our God is a God of mercy, but I don’t believe He was simply telling us a scary story in this gospel passage.

What is causing you to sin? Is it that social media account that more often than not brings about feelings of jealousy? Is it that TV show you can’t live without that throws in a bit of nudity here and there just for good measure? Is it the coffee date with a friend that soon becomes a gossip date?

Whatever it is . . . cut it off. As we sin, it paves a way for others to be tempted in the same way, and I don’t know about you, but I could do without an unquenchable fire. We all have our battles, our struggles, our silent sins that we want to escape from. You’re not alone in these feelings.

Whatever it is that is keeping you from Him, cut it off. I have a feeling once we do, we won’t even know it’s missing.

Take a few moments in quiet contemplation today. Where are you failing? Where are your weaknesses that you know lead you into temptation? Christ wants you close. Let Him bring you close.

photo credit

Britt Fisk is the wife of Jeremy and mother of five young kids.  She spends her days living simply in the-middle-of-nowhere-New Mexico helping with the family beef cattle operation. You can find out more about her here.

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