May 22, 2008
Thursday of the seventh week in ordinary time
Mark 9: 41-50
Jesus said to his disciples: "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 it 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.’ Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, there is nothing I desire more than to be with you for all eternity. I recognize that I am going to have to go through trials and tribulations, but as long as you are with me, these will produce nothing but joy and peace in my heart. Lord, grant me the grace to continue forward amongst utter darkness and the grace to be humble in times of consolation.
Petition: My Lord and Father, whatever you have to take from me, take it. I desire only to be with you.
1. All We Do or Don’t Do Most of us are acutely aware of our sins, weaknesses and failures. When we hear this Gospel passage our reaction could be one of dismissal, passing it off as exaggerated or fundamentalist thinking: “How am I going to cut off my hand or foot? And all because of sin?” Others begin to imagine that we Christians would have to become a group of blind, crippled and disfigured people, since we are all sinners. What Christ is telling us is that we must learn to detach ourselves from sin and avoid the near occasions of sin. We need to make a radical choice in our lives, leaving aside the “old self” and putting on the “new self”.
2. Apostolate of Good Example We do not live our lives disconnected from others. Consequently, we must show others the good example of our fidelity to God and his holy will. This is by far our most effective apostolate. Many people can talk the talk, but it takes a real apostle to walk the walk. This is what people are looking for. To paraphrase Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “People don’t hate the Church; they hate what they wrongly think the Church is.” Why do so many people have misconceptions about the Church? Because, sadly, many Catholics don’t know or live their faith!
3. Salted with Fire Our Lord will purify us of our attachments with fire. This purifying fire comes in the form of the cross. Christ has given us the cross, not out of spite, but because we have desired to become holy. No good thing has ever come without hard work and sacrifice; it is the same with holiness. Christ knows that if we were left to ourselves, we would never seek suffering. So, he introduces us to it and helps us to embrace it. The cross is the vehicle on which we proceed to heaven. Let us love it and continue on this path that leads to our true home.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know my weakness. I would never seek suffering if you had not taught me how to suffer. But because you have taught me its value, I desire to embrace it with a more willing heart. Jesus, help me never to seek a path that doesn’t include the cross, for such a path cannot lead to you!
Resolution: I will visit the Eucharist and speak to Christ about what I need to be purified of.
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