Reflection on the 26th Sunday

by Fr. Francis Huwn Msfs

“If your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out”

Numbers 11:25-29
Ps 19
James 5:1-6
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

A little girl had being to the church and heard the sermon on separating the sheep and the goats (Mt 25:31-46). When the mother put her to bed that night, the little girl began to cry and said, ‘ Mommy! I am afraid that I am a goat.” Mother said, “No. You are not goat. Bishop Fulton Sheen told me that you are an angel. If you die, you will go straight to heaven.” The little girl was very satisfied and went to sleep. The next night, the mother came in and the child was crying again and said, “Mommy! I am still thinking about sheep and goats.” ” I told you, you are not goat, you are an angel”, consoled the mother. “Alright Mommy” said the little girl, ” But I am afraid that you might be a goat.”

There is a battle going on in the lives of each of us, a battle between good and evil. At the end of that battle in the next life we will either hear Jesus say, “you are mine” or hear Satan say, “you are mine.” Jesus could keep you at his right hand as sheep or condemned you to the left as goat. There are manifestations of grace and manifestations of evil all around us. What make a person a sheep or goat; be admitted into heaven or cast into hell is sin and only sin.

How do we overcome sin and temptation? In our Gospel Jesus said,

If your hand should cause you to sin cut it off;…if your foot should cause you to sin cut it off;…if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out…. (Mark 9:43,45,47)

Jesus was speaking metaphorically and warns us to avoid occasions of sin. Jesus is asking us to reflect on our lives to see if anything is leading us in the wrong direction and if so to take steps to remedy it. There is a religious congregation who has a rule not to use mobile phones and not to gossip in dinning hall. That is their way of plucking out the eye that would lead to sin. This is the effort the community have made to avoid occasions of sin. What are you doing to avoid occasions of sin?

Perhaps for some people alcohol is an occasion of sin because it leads one to committing sin. Besides TV, other media (phone apps, internet sites, etc.) or lust of the flesh. Various sins are presented as glamorous which could gradually breaks down our defenses and then we think it is okay to sin. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said about the TV, “We have a tabernacle to Jesus in the Church and we have a tabernacle to Satan in the home.” We don’t have problem spending hours and hours before TV but not able to concentrate in prayer for few minutes. We have money for mobile data but not for bus/kombi fare to go to church on Sundays.

Each one of us can be a stumbling block to the simple faithful and an evil influence on the young. We may be piling scandals after scandals without being aware of it. We can also fail our children by setting bad example to them through ungodly life. Today many adults are addicted to the computers and smart phones. In the past people reached habitually for their prayer book or rosary beads and filled their spare moments with prayer. Now they check in to the internet first thing in the morning. Without mobile phones in hand or in the bag or pocket, we feel handicap. But we don’t mind setting out our journey or work without prayer.

Pope Francis expressed concern about this aspect of human ecology today, when he said, “You won’t meet God sitting in front of your computer screen.” We won’t get our prayers and wishes answered in WhatsApp and face book either. How to cut off this scandal — this stumbling block to our spiritual progress? People fear to disconnect because of the news they will miss — but it is better to live in the present, even in ignorance of the latest news or the latest email, than to be fully in touch with everything except God. The generation of “digital natives,” who actually live in the internet, are suffering from this epidemic of internet dependency, losing the powers of concentration and the habits of reading that are essential for academic progress. Adults should be giving the young a good example in using the internet judiciously and ensuring that there is plenty of time for concentrated reading and for prayer. It is culpable frivolity to spend too much time on Facebook, WhatsApp, and so forth.

If we teach another to sin, he or she in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others. May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and joy in you, and freedom from sin and oppression.”

Live Jesus!