“Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better if a great milestone is hung around his neck and thrown into the sea… If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off…. If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out…” (Mark 9:42-47).
Dear friends, let’s just face it. Sin is a very serious matter. By using these graphic images, Jesus wants us to really have a feel of the gravity of what sin does to us. By talking about how we are to cut out parts of our body or drowning in the sea, Jesus wants us to perceive the smell of sin. If we cannot perceive the smell of sin, then we cannot summon the courage to avoid sin. Unfortunately, we live in a dark world that has not only lost the smell of sin but attempts to normalize its odour.
Our readings today mention different types of sin which we must avoid.
1. The Sin of Jealousy.
Why did Joshua try to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying in today’s first reading? Why did the disciples of Jesus try to stop a man from casting out demons in the name of Jesus? Could it be because they themselves could not cast out demons? Today’s Gospel passage comes from Mark 9, verses 38 to 48. If we go up a bit to verse 15 of this same Mark chapter 9, you will see how a demon practically embarrassed the disciples of Jesus. A man brought his boy to them but they could not cast out the demon and when Jesus came, he was ashamed of them saying “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?” (Mark 9:19).
Jealousy is a very smelling sin, it is the fuel of the pull-him-down-syndrome that we see everywhere. Jealousy blinds us to the Infinite Power of God that is unrestricted and unlimited to any person, camp or group. By criticising others who act in God’s name, we not only contribute to the scandal of division in the Christian faith, we act as though we are capable of fighting for God. God is powerful enough to stop those who use His Name wrongly or as a money-making enterprise. We are not the ones to stop them rather we who consider ourselves genuine should learn to be humble.
God can use anybody. Do you remember how the young Samuel who had not even been ordained was hearing from God while Eli the priest was no longer hearing from God? Imagine Eli attempting to crush the little boy Samuel! Is this not what is happening to us today?
The fact that Eldad and Medad despite their absence from the ordination ceremony, still received the power of prophecy only goes to show that God is so powerful that he cannot be held bound by distance. Jealousy limits God in our eyes, it also limits us from growing deeper in our faith.
2. The sin of Exploitation of Workers.
Today’s second reading opens our eyes to another smelling sin; the exploitation of workers. Has someone done some work for you and up till now, you haven’t paid the person? St. James says, begin to “weep and howl for the miseries that are coming to you…” Refusing to pay workers’ wages what is their due and at the right time is worse than stealing.
3. The Sin of Scandal.
Another deadly, smelling and poisonous sin mentioned in today’s readings is Scandal. Jesus said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better if a great milestone is hung around his neck and thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42). Scandal destroys the faith of those who are entrusted to us. Scandal makes a mockery of our moral values. It destroys the spiritual life of those who take us as mentors.
Are you father, a mother, a coach, a teacher, a minister? Are you a leader in any church organisation? Even if you are in charge of just one person, do you realize that what you do in secret can affect and destroy those who are under your leadership?
Conclusion – SIN IS AVOIDABLE.
Every sin is both a suicide and a murder. It kills us by weakening our desire to be saints and kills others through bad example. By saying we should cut off our hands and foot and pluck our eyes, Jesus wants us to realise that we have power over sin and that right within us are the causes of sin. If we really want to stop sin, then we need to avoid the environment for sin. They say a mistake is only a mistake the first time. By the second time, it becomes foolishness. Stop blaming the devil for your sins. Repent today!
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see the gravity of every sin that I may never ever offend you again. Amen.
Bible Study: Numbers 11:25-29, Psalm 19:7-13, James 5:1-6 and Mark 9:38-48).