Jesus said to his disciples:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
“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.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
“Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
9:42–48 Jesus uses hyperbole (overstatement) to emphasize that drastic measures are needed to avoid sin (CCC 1861, 2284–87). Because public sin can embolden others to sin likewise, the consequences that await those who cause scandal are worse than drowning by the weight of a great millstone (9:42). Because grave (mortal) sins merit hell (9:43, 35, 47), avoiding them requires us to take action so serious that it can be compared to bodily dismemberment (Mt 5:29–30). ● Morally (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Matt. 59): severing bodily limbs signifies the amputation of intimate friends. When close companions drag Christians away from holiness, they must be cut away. It is better for us to enter heaven without them than to maintain their company in everlasting misery.
9:49 salted with fire: Probably a reference to the trials and temptations that face believers. Given the preceding context (9:42–48), it may include the purifying suffering of penance needed to avoid sin and turn away from impure habits. Such fire is meant to test the genuineness of our Christian commitment and lead us to perfection (Sir 2:5; 1 Pet 1:6–7; CCC 1430–31). In the end, those refined by the temporal fires of this world will be spared the unquenchable fires of the next.
In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks, with incredible bluntness, about cutting off one’s hand and foot and the plucking out of one’s own eye. If these things are a block to your salvation, get rid of them, for it is better to enter life maimed than to enter Gehenna with all of your limbs and members. The hand is the organ by which we reach out and grasp things. The soul is meant for union with God, but we have, instead, reached out to creatures, all of our energies, grasping at finite things.
The Lord also speaks of the foot. The foot is the organ by which we set ourselves on a definite path. We are meant to walk on the path which is Christ. Do we? Or have we set out down a hundred errant paths, leading to glory, honor, power, or pleasure?
We are designed to seek after and look for God. Have we spent much of our lives looking in all the wrong places, beguiled by the beauties and enticements of this world? And are we willing to pluck out our eye spiritually, to abandon many of the preoccupations that have given us pleasure?
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.