9:38–41, 45, 47-48
said to Jesus, “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
afterwards 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.
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.
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.”
today’s gospel, we have the incident of the exorcist who was not a follower of
Jesus. The apostles did not approve of this man, but Jesus said to let him be
for “he that is not against us is for us”; because the power of exorcism was
from God. Further to this incident, St. Mark then adds a collection of sayings
on charity, avoiding scandal and the necessity of giving up what is most dear
to us in life if it impedes us from entering eternal life.
the incident of the exorcist, John thought that it was wrong for someone who
was not a follower of Jesus to exorcize and casts out demons in the name of
Jesus. But Jesus did not agree with this interpretation. Jesus saw the incident
in another prospective. He knew any man who has this power, has it from God and
therefore he is not an opponent of Christ, thus he will not be able to speak
evil and condemn the activity of Jesus.
made known of his thought about the incident, Jesus went even further by saying
that even a much smaller act of kindness, such as giving people a cup of water
to drink, done to a fellowman because of Christ will have its heavenly reward.
He implied that such a small act of kindness could be performed by a
to another side of the coin of his saying, Jesus pointed out that anyone who weakens
the faith of Christ’s followers would be better off if he had been drowned
before he committed this sin of scandal. A shortening of one’s earthly life is
of little importance when compared with the loss of one’s eternal.
is the sin of being a cause of an occasion of another’s sin, is doubly sinful
involving one’s own sin and the person scandalized. Scandal can be caused by
word, such as teaching or propagating wrong doctrine or giving sinful advice.
And it can also be caused by one’s own sinful deeds which may be imitated by
in positions of authority such as parents whose duty is to bring up their
children in the Christian faith, are especially liable to give scandal if they
fail to live truly Christian lives. Christian parents who fail to live
according to their faith will be held accountable not only for their own sins,
but for the sins of their children and perhaps their children’s children for
generations to come.
second lesson for all of us in today’s gospel is that we should ever realize
that eternal life is worth any sacrifice which we may be called on to make. The
road we have to travel in life is not an easy one. As our Lord says in another
place: “Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that
leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is
narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few”
wish to reach heaven, therefore we must be prepared to follow Christ. We must
not allow others to lead us astray but be prepared and determined to conquer
and resist our own evil inclinations also.
world and our own human nature will put many obstacles in our way. For that
reason God gave us the Ten Commandments which spell out for us what we are to
avoid and what we are to do if we wish to have eternal life. For many keeping
these commandments is not an easy task and it makes severe demands at times.
However, our Lord makes it crystal clear that we must endure the hardship because
the prize, the reward, is everlasting happiness. When he said that we must be
ready to deprive ourselves of a foot or a hand or an eye if they should be
obstacles to us, he was speaking metaphorically. He simply stresses that we
must be ready if necessary to give up what is dearest to our nature. The less
of earthly luggage we carry with us and the less of earthly attachments we give
way to, the easier and safer will be out journey.
We pray today: “Lord, self-renunciation and attention to the needs of our
brothers and sisters are the hallmark of belonging to you. You call me to be a
stepping-stone for others, not a stumbling block.” Amen.