On the Gospel of Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
26th Sunday of the Year
At the beginning of this Sunday’s Gospel we see some of the disciples trying to stop a man working miracles in Jesus’ name. In the second part we hear about the risk of leading ourselves or others, astray.
Jesus makes clear that there is a distinction between people who work with Him for the cause of good, and those who work against Him. This reminds us that we are all called to help to bring others to know God, it is part of our calling we received at our baptism. The man in the Gospel cast out demons in Jesus’ name thereby acknowledging that it is only Jesus who can release us from the burdens of life. Giving evidence to the sayings of Jesus that “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:30) and “I will give rest” (Mt 11:28). It is in the Lord that we find this liberation which sets us free.
Jesus continues with a strong message concerning the risk of looking for such release in the wrong places, not Christ. It is important to keep our eyes fixed on the road which leads to heaven: “It is better to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” While the analogies are addressed to us as individuals at the start of this passage Jesus warns people who cause harm to others, “anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones, who have faith, would be better thrown down into the sea with great millstone round his neck.” (MK 9:42) making it clear that there is a communal aspect of being a follower of Christ, and the responsibility which it brings with it.
It is important to realise the role we play in the life journey of other people. We can and do make a difference in a good way or a bad way. In contemporary culture faith is seen as something personal, it is clear from what Jesus says that the journey we make is a journey which we make together. While as we have seen the man casting out demons in Jesus’ name is clearly giving a witness to the power and authority Jesus and is leading people to Him, it is also possible to lead people astray.
During this life we determine our eternal salvation. How we live does make a difference. That is why it is so important that we keep in touch with the road God has laid out for us. Some Gospel passages, like this one telling us to pluck out our eyes etc, are strong; to make it clear that how we live in this world does have consequences. We should look at our own spiritual journey and make sure we are not being led astray and also making sure we do not leading others astray. We should be acting always in the name and power of Jesus and leading others to Him.
It is only in Jesus that we can find true happiness, in this life and in the next. Do not keep such a joy to yourself, but share it with others in order that they might find this joy too!
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.”
– Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48