26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At that time, John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
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.’”
You can’t guess how many times the phrase has been heard in my family, “It’s time to start eating healthy.” You can’t guess because I can’t even guess, and it’s my family! When that intense awareness arrives that we have as a collective unit all fallen too far off the bandwagon, we begin to devise a plan. Exercise, more water, lower carbs, more water, leafy greens, and more water: You get the picture. Also, every time we must remove all bad foods from the house and make a commitment to never buy such items again. These delicious snacks will lead us down the path to ruin. The must be eliminated.
Of course, no cookie ever made me eat it. But I have chosen to eat many cookies. My will at times is just too weak to resist eating it. So, it actually is a good move to not have it in the pantry. There is no reason to unnecessarily tempt oneself.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus goes to extremes to make this very point. He suggests that even if a body part causes us to sin, cut it off. Of course, my hand, eye, or foot has never forced me to do anything. However, the point is well taken that we cannot allow ourselves to fall back into the same patterns of sin, again and again.
When applying this theme to stewardship, we cannot allow ourselves to come up against the same obstacles to mature discipleship, again and again. If something tempts us to spend our money unwisely, or waste our time, or squander our talents and gifts, changes need to be made. Since we are not perfect, we will always find new obstacles along the way. When we realize we have fallen again, we need to make a change, and empty our spiritual pantries of all those bad cookies. Then we will be on the path again to good stewardship health.