Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student
The Gospel for today is one that we must take to heart as the Church combats the evil of these times. It is in this set of readings that we are told the fate of the offenders and how to identify the servants of the Lord.
The most obvious is the message that the Lord sends to those who commit evil in His name. As I read through the scripture, the seriousness of the all sin is revealed. “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.” -Mark 9:42
It is better to have our earthly body suffer and die in a horrendous way than it is to lead others away from Christ. We need to recognize that sin is not a matter to be treated lightly, particularly when our sin leads others to sin. We must learn to cut ourselves off from the things, the habits, the processes, the people, and the places that lead us from sin. As painful as it might be to sever a relationship or habit, the pain of adjusting our life is far better than the pain that we would have to endure if we did not amend our sinful ways. This is needed in every area of the Church, in our own lives, in the lives of our communities, and especially in the lives of those who lead in the Church. As we have seen in the recent clergy sex abuse scandal, when those who lead lead others astray or allow others to sin, it has catastrophic consequences for the entire Church. The fate of all who lead others astray is made known in the second reading. As St. James says, “Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you.” Those who remain firm in sin will be left to answer to the Lord.
It isn’t all bad news, though. Instead of drowning in despair and anger, Christ empowers us to be proclaimers of the Gospel and truth. We are all called to preach God to people, to call others to a relationship of life and love with the Lord, this is not just the call of priests and religious. We hear in today’s Gospel that the Apostles tried to stop someone from proclaiming the Word and doing great deeds because that stranger was not chosen as an Apostle. But when our Lord says that the man who is doing good works in His name is valid in doing so, because he performs acts of good through the Lord, we need to heed this message! We can do acts of good in Christ’s name. Do not wait for change to happen, become the change and it will happen! Moses says that he wished all of the Lord’s people were prophets, that we all had the Spirit of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we do have the Spirit of the Lord, and we are called to proclaim His word and do mighty deeds. Though we face difficult times, it is up to us to answer the call to be the saints that the Church needs us to be.