By Fr. Andrew Kelly
26TH SUNDAY ORDINAL TIME – SEPT. 30
Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48) offers a contrast of expectations Jesus has for believers.
If believers see good works being performed by people outside the community, Jesus expects open-mindedness, tolerance and inclusiveness.
Just because people do not bear the Christian stamp of approval, does not mean that they are not doing the work of God.
Believers always see the hand of God and the presence of Christ in all healing and generosity. Simply offering a glass of water becomes a holy event and is be seen as such and not to be stopped.
Inside the community, however, Jesus expects rigorous discipline. Any behavior (the meaning of “stumbling block” or scandal) that would cause another to lose faith in Jesus Christ is not to be tolerated.
As Jesus says: “… [I]t would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.”
If personal behavior “causes you to stumble, cut it off …” Again, rigorous discipline is called for.
Jesus is not advocating the physical dismantling of the body. But Jesus is demanding that all such behavior be rooted out at its core, the human heart. Constant conversion through prayer and fasting is the only remedy.
(Father Andrew Kelly is a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport.)
Scripture Readings for Sept. 30 to Oct. 7
Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
Mt 18:1-5, 10
Jb 9:1-12, 14-16
Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
Jb 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17
Mk 10:2-16 or Mk 10:2-12