26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel – Matthew 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
That Was Harsh!
Wailing Wall, Jerusalem
What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Yeah, I know, we have just barely entered autumn and Halloween is still a month away. But there is a point to this! For me, Christmas Story has to be in my top five! And if there is one line that stands out, it is this: You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!!!! For a family comedy, that’s a pretty grim image to conjure up, particularly for children.
Today’s Gospel is filled with all sorts of stark images and language – plucking out your eyeball, cutting off your arm or foot. It’s the sort of imagery that seems destined for a very gory horror movie, not suitable for children. And yet through it all, there are notes of tenderness and compassion, words of mercy and grace.
We are reminded that sin begins, not with our actions, but with our thoughts, our intentions. Years ago, George Carlin had a comedy sketch about sin. Basically he said, if you were planning to go downtown to kill someone, save your bus fare; you’ve already committed the sin. A bit stark but there is truth here – sin exists when we deliberately intend to do something we know is wrong. But that also means that virtue begins with our intentions as well. Good begins in our heart, with what we plan to do. Whether we are talking about sin or virtue, intentions matter!
But intentions matter very little unless we follow through, unless we act! What do they say – the road is paved with good intentions! Just a few days ago, I reflected on our attachment to our Google calendar. But even then, all those scheduled appointments and meetings are useless if we don’t attend them, act on them!
We all have habits and attitudes that cause us to stray from the right path, that distract us from following the Lord. As extreme as Jesus’ words are, they do challenge us to take action. They call us to root out whatever causes us to sin, to cut it out of our lives. By virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we are all filled with the Holy Spirit! We all have been graced with the courage to live a faith-filled life. We are all empowered to drive out whatever demons there are in our lives.
Consider this: God didn’t remove the Red Sea for the Hebrews when they fled Egypt; He parted it. And then they passed through! God doesn’t always remove our problems or obstacles; He makes a way through them! It is up to us to take action, to take the steps necessary to continue on the path to the Kingdom! Even if it’s simply giving someone a cup of water, we will not lose our reward!