Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
I don’t have more recent statistics. But I offer the following stats from the year 2000 for reflection on today’s second reading.
Mississippi: Rank in average gross income: 49th
Rank in average itemized charitable contributions: 1st
Massachusetts: Rank in average gross income: 4th
Rank in average itemized charitable contributions: 50th
Today’s gospel sounds like a lecture in radical surgery. Fortunately, I think we can assume the Lord was exaggerating a bit to make a point. But what was the point?
Maybe we can take a lesson from the Olympics. If you want to obtain the gold, you have to be focused. You can’t let anything distract you. You have to study, train, practice, eat right, sleep right, sacrifice, stay in shape, — in other words, don’t let anything get in your way of reaching mastery.
Today the Lord is telling his followers to get focused. Don’t let anything deter you from seeking the kingdom. Don’t let anything lead you into sin. Don’t let anything keep you from loyalty to him and his mission.
Does prejudice get in the way? Lop it of. Is unforgiveness in your heart? Remove it. Does greed have control of you? Eliminate it. Is gossip your problem? Delete it. Does laziness have the best of you? Get enthused. Do riches make you selfish (see above)? Dump them.
Once these obstacles are removed, then hang on. The Spirit will do great things through you.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.