Grace to you!
Sin is terrible. Anything that does not glorify God in our lives through our thoughts, words and actions are to be shunned.
If you read James 5:1-6 and the Gospel of Mark 9:41-50, you will have no doubt as to how the bible looks at sin – greed, envy, lust, sloth, gluttony, pride or anger, etc. James used a very graphic imagery to show how greed can lead to destruction.
Many want to know how to overcome this or that sin? The Lord Jesus Christ’s warning concerning the dangers of sin shows us exactly how to deal with it. Though some theologians, “of niceness” or “feel good,” would say it was too violent or graphic to be quoted. I reply: it’s actually calling a spade a spade. When it comes to sin, frank talk is desirable.
Jesus wants us to confront sin head-on. No room for dilly-dallying. Let me warn you, the language may sound violent. It’s not to be understood literally, but figuratively, while retaining the force of the urgency.
Jesus said, “ If your hand causes you to sin, cut if off” . . . If your foot causes you to sin, cut if off . . . and if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Each of these is matched with an alternative – life eternal though blind, lame or maimed, is more important) (cf. Mark 9:42-47).
Certainly, Jesus isn’t calling you to hurt any part of your body. Do no such thing. What, then, is Jesus teaching us in this text?
First, it’s for us to see clearly how dangerous sin is to us. I understand many people downplay the impact of sin. Please do not be deceived into thinking it doesn’t matter. It does. Heaven is for real and hell is for real. This isn’t some old, obsolete theology. It’s divine truth clearly stated in God’s word.
Second, these three imageries show three of the main sources of temptation. There are sins committed through the hands – touching, such as sexual acts, that do not glorify God; all other forms of evil committed by the hand, such as fraudulent documentations, murder, etc.
There are sins that come through the leg. Those leg-works that are evil, including claiming what doesn’t belong to us, greed, standing in the way of peace and love, being a stumbling block to justice, truth and goodness.
Third are the sins that come through the eyes – looking, staring, scanning, spying or searching that do not glorify God. In our today’s world, the Internet and visual technologies are chief sources of temptation.
Jesus’ proposal is this: Avoid the occasions of sin. Don’t touch; don’t go there where you know you will sin. Do not take a look at what will take away the joy of the Lord.
There is an age-long Catholic tactic for avoiding sin – begin with avoiding the occasions of sin. It’s the first step to victory over sin inspired by the grace of God. Other practices to life of virtue follow.
So, is there a thing, a situation, an occasion (or even a person) that makes you sin? “Cut it off” – that is, avoid it and you will not fall. Do not say you are strong enough to handle it when you are already drowning. Remember, it is better to retreat when you can than to foolishly die in the battlefield because of foolhardiness.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Today's bible reading Thursday, May 19, 2016, Week 7 Ordinary Time: James 5:1-6; Mark 9:41-50]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.