I hope you were paying attention to the Gospel this Sunday (as of 9/27/09). Because I'm not going to post exactly what it was... :P :) Try to take a moment to remember. I'm not sure about everyone, but this might be one of those Readings that are kind of unforgettable. This also might be one of those Scripture passages that are hardest to talk about, define, and understand... (I've never really understood it either :P )
Did you remember? Or did you look it up... (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)
Actually, in a way, I can understand what John was feeling. Try to think of this: You're in a group (let's say, Bible Study group or something) that only consists of your friends and yourself. Then your little brother (or little sister) just has to tag along and listen too. Then (I bet you know how this feels) your friends start commenting how 'cute' he or she is to tag along and join in the meeting. He (or she) doesn't say much of anything, but it kind of bothers you that you had to bring him/her along to your own time with your friends. Then when it's your chance to say something, your little sib says it first, and immediately starts helping/contributing more to the group. Kind of annoying...? But what's so wrong about that? (ok, I think that was a ridiculous analogy :P )
Alright, moving forward....
Then Jesus comes along and says, after giving the answer that John and the others probably weren't expecting,
"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 hte sea..."
Whaat?? It's as if Jesus meant to say that right after that question he was asked by John. Maybe something was going through the minds of them...? Maybe someone was thinking about some idea to make that guy (who was driving out demons) make a mistake in his work. Who knows. But (isn't Jesus just absolutely brilliant? :) ) he made sure he said those words.
And then the scary/harsh/creepy/not-to-mention-scary part. Jesus is telling us how really really bad and ugly it is to sin. He's serious. But I don't think absolutely literally about what he said:
"...If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off... And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off... And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out...."
...Actually I imagine the people listening to those words had these faces on: 0_0 ?!?? "Huh?? Where'd that come from?!" was probably what was running through their heads.
Well, that's why Jesus added that other part when he said those words:
"...It is better for you to enter into life mained than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire... It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna... 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."
If the "cut off your hand if it causes you to sin or die" part was the only part that they seemed to hear and think about, than they're missing the entire point. Maybe I should've made "What in the world is Jesus saying this Sunday?" the title of this post. But he's saying what he's saying. Maybe he's talking about our hearts and to our hearts...
I can across this very interesting quote recently:
"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me...'" (-Erma Bombeck)
Try to think of it in that way. Imagine this: when we get to heaven, I hope we'll be able to say - ...maybe in a exhausted voice because we worked so hard not to sin... weak from treading long and hard on that narrow road... because our shoulders and arms are sore and wounded from carrying our crosses... tears welling up in our eyes because of everything we gave up, what we're feeling, and everything we've faced in our journey with God... and our voices hoarse and our hands and feet worn out because we worked so hard to spread his Holy Word... even endured painful persecutions. We collapse at that glorious finish line St. Paul talked about, and Jesus is there to catch us and wipe our tears away, cradling us in His gentle arms - we can say, "I gave it everything I got. I did my best for you...just as you did for me."
Let's give Jesus all we've got, all to avoid going downhill and follow Him wherever he takes us... just as HE gave everything he got for us: HIS life and all HIS love.
Hope that made sense...
P.S. ...Could you do me a favor? Please go over to my older sister's blog and wish her a happy birthday in the comments box. Actually it was yesterday, but I could tell that this was one of the best birthdays she has ever had. :) She's reached an oollld age, just so you know... :P ;) jk