Mk 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.
And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Getting rid of what hinders our journey
In the end, there are really only two choices: God’s Kingdom or, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, a “state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed” (#1033). Jesus called that state of alienation “Gehenna,” an actual place just outside Jerusalem. The Ammonites practiced human sacrifice there and the Jews considered it an unholy place, suitable only for burning garbage.
God cannot allow the garbage of sin into the Kingdom of love, forgiveness, truth, and peace. Earthly life is preparation for that eternal Kingdom where there is no hate, bitterness, greed, or lust. Sin, and whatever leads to sin, must be disposed of.
At the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius advises us to use what helps us attain our ultimate goal of the Kingdom and to get rid of anything that hinders us. What helps or hinders me in my journey?
Jesus, you blazed a trail for me to follow. May nothing get in the way of following you into the Kingdom you have prepared for me from the beginning. Amen.
—Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ