Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48



While reading the second part of the Gospel today, I asked myself: Where am I? Are these words from the Taliban or from Jesus? These days, we hear of extreme corporal punishment only from the most radical fundamentalists who delight in public whipping, crucifixions, beheading, and cutting of limbs. But then today’s Gospel  is not on the same level as these radicals who sow terror and hatred.


If we read carefully, we will notice major differences. First, the Lord does not advocate violence against any person, however sinful he or she may be. Second, the Lord is addressing us directly when he says “cut it off,” or “pluck it out,” which is impossible to do to yourself. This is not literal language but figurative language. The Lord Jesus is strongly reminding us to take control of ourselves.


Take control of your hands: Our hands are instruments for acquiring but are also prone to accumulating. We open them to receive but we close them when we refuse to give. We extend our hands in welcome but we also cross our arms to reject others. A hand gesture can encourage people and another gesture can shame and belittle them.


Take control of your feet: In Hosea, God says, he taught his children to walk. We are meant to walk towards God, but we can choose to walk away from him. We run excitedly towards pleasurable things but we refuse to move an inch when it comes to sacrifice. With our feet, we can lead people along the way but we can also cause them to lose their way. We can drag our feet when it comes to helping people, until it is too late!


Take control of your eyes: Eyes are not neutral organs. We decide to have some as the “apple” of our eyes while we can regard others simply as “eyesores.” We can look at others favorably and treat others with disdain. Eyes can show delight and fondness but they can also manifest insult and mockery.


We were created for the purpose of loving God and serving our neighbor. Jesus is telling us to take control of ourselves so that that purpose will not be lost on us. Let us keep our hands as instruments of giving, welcoming and encouraging; our feet as instruments for seeking God and leading others to him; our eyes as instruments of beholding the glory of the Lord and the beauty of each person before us.