Today’s gospel sounds like a lecture in radical surgery. “If you hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” “If your eye causers you to sin, pluck it out.” Jesus was exaggerating a bit to make a point. But what was the point?
We can learn a lesson from Olympic athletes. If athletes want to win the gold, they have to be focused. They can’t let anything distract them. They have to be disciplined, eat right, sleep right, practice, stay in shape, study techniques, and sacrifice other interests — in other words, lop off anything that gets in the way of going for the gold.
The Lord is telling us today to get focused. We are not to let anything deter us from seeking the kingdom. We are not to let anything keep us from loyalty to him. We are not to let anything lead us into sin.
Is gossip your problem? Remove it.
Has greed got control of you? Lop it off.
Does laziness have the best of you? Get rid of it.
Does prejudice get in your way? Eliminate it.
Is pornography on your screen? Delete it.
Is unforgiveness in your heart? Kick it out.
In the book titled, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the author cites this principal: “Begin with the end in mind.” For Jesus the end was always his Father’s will. Jesus was focused. All his energy was directed to saying and doing what he Father wanted. For Christians it is the same. We pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” We are focused.
Part of the peace that surpasses understanding is knowing where we are going and how to get there. With Jesus we say,“Behold, I have come to do your will, Oh God” (Hebrews 19:7).
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/