This Sunday’s Gospel reading will be from Mark 9:38-50 (Section 91 in the Harmony of the Gospels). Today’s Lectionary Gospel reading picks up directly after the Gospel reading from last week (which is not always the case). The disciples had been arguing about which of them might be the greatest in the kingdom of God. As Jesus continues his response he provides them some basic lessons about the new order of things. For while they had been thinking (wrongfully) about their position in heaven, Jesus cuts to the quick and raises once again the subject of Hell. Now, you can dig into that topic if you like with your parish clergy (or with your small group leaders in week 56) but here today we’ll focus right down to our own ego and the real point of the message which Matthew sums up for us at the close of his Gospel account.
Read the text and hear the rest of the story from Matthew and Mark’s parallel accounts.
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a huge millstone were hung around his neck, and that he were sunk in the depths of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. 10 See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.
12 “What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray? 13 If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is on our side. 41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. 42 Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck.
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire, 44 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame, rather than having your two feet to be cast into Gehenna, into the fire that will never be quenched— 46 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into God’s Kingdom with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, 48 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow with us.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Don’t forbid him, for he who is not against us is for us.”
Let’s face it some folks have a big ego and want to have things done their way! Some folks prefer a regimented lifestyle and get perturbed by others who don’t follow the proper rules, standards, and policies. Jesus’ response – attend to your own faults and do your best to help others considering first their needs, situation, and most of all the grace and power of God!
- Who among us has been injured by the judgement, astringent words and attitudes of others?
- Who among us feels the need of God’s grace?
- Who among us desires God to intervene and send aid?
- Who among us have the means of grace and the abundance of that which has been entrusted to you to give aid others in need?
Sometimes you may think it doesn’t matter, but your smile, forgiveness, a regular or timely donation, or a helping hand – any of these can be the catalyst that transforms another’s life and makes straight for them the road to heaven. We may have to deny ourselves some comfort and humbly hand over that which was entrusted to us without strings so that neither the giver or the receiver should stumble.