Oh dear! The language at the end of our Gospel today is so shockingly severe that we might well cringe. It’s the passage where we are advised to cut off our hands or our feet, or pluck out our eye, if they cause us to sin. Notice that these admonitions follow another first admonition, also stated fiercely: If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if … he were thrown into the sea. Because of past over-emphasis on sexual sins, we might think that is what Jesus is talking about. But these severe sayings are part of the section of Mark’s Gospel when Jesus is instructing his disciples about how they are to care for the flock, Jesus’ “little ones.” This theme of caring for one another is consistent throughout the four Gospels. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Spiritually if we go beyond the harsh words, we might consider the questions they pose for us. Hands grasp. What am I grasping at that may not be good for me or for others? Hands can deliver blows; who have I “blown off” in anger, whether expressed or only felt and thought? Feet run away and toward. Whom do I cross the street, so to speak, to avoid? And whom do I gravitate toward that brings out the worst in me? Eyes watch. Am I seeing the best in people I associate with? Rejoicing in their goodness and accomplishments? Or am I mostly seeing only their shortcomings and faults and feeling diminished by and jealous of their success? Perhaps you have other spiritual questions about our hands and feet and eyes! As we ponder questions like these, the senses of our bodies begin working with our souls to help us, not derail us, from following Christ.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia