Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015/09/27 - Cut it Off

Before Mass:  Every three years, we here this Gospel, where Jesus commands that if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  Better to enter eternal life with one hand than to go into hell with two hands.  Seems very logical  even though it seems a bit extreme  OK  Ill admit  over-the-top extreme.
Now normally, youd expect the preacher to make everybody feel better immediately by saying  well, Jesus didnt really MEAN for us to cut our hands off he was just speaking figuratively  using hyperbole.thats a fancy term for Jesus was just trying to exaggerate to get our attention.
BUT  Im not going to let us all off that easy.  Jesus used these examples for a very real reason.  So as we listen to the readings, think about what Jesus is asking you to cut off.

Imagine this  youre going on the ultimate vacation  youre going to hike and climb BY YOURSELF for a week in the wilderness in Utah.  Its going to be awesome.  You set out cross-country, because there are no trails.  You climb up and down canyons.  Then you come to this one canyon, not really a canyon  more like a crevice its like a 3 foot opening in the rock.  You decide to climb down through that crevice.  You get to the bottom and walking along to see where the crevice leads  and you come to a rock thats about waist high, so youre going to have to climb over.  So you do what youve done a thousand times before, you put your arm over the rock and hoist yourself up to climb over  but then without warning, the rock shifts  and pins your arm between the rock and the canyon wall.
Excruciating pain!  You panic  you try to pull your arm out  try to pry the rock up  try to break the rock.  After a while you try to calm yourself  OK lets think this through.  How am I going to get out of this and thats when it really hits youyou are in BIG trouble.  You cant get your arm free there is NOBODY within 20 miles of you, so you cant call for helpoh  and no way youll get a phone signal down here in this crevice.  Youre 100 feet down in a canyon, so nobody is going to SEE you unless they are specifically LOOKING for you but remember  nobody will even notice youre missing for another week  and then theyd have to search a huge wilderness area filled with a thousand crevices to find you, because you arent on any path and didnt tell anybody which direction youd be heading..

Do you feel the gravity of the situation?  Oh  and since youre in Utah, its very easy to get dehydrated  and you only have maybe enough liquids to get you through one day.  You might have enough food for a few days, but without liquids in this desert, youre toast.

What would you do?

I imagine many of you have heard the story about Aron Ralston  in fact, you may have seen the movie about him called 127 hours.  This situation pretty much describes Arons experience back in 2003.  He spent more than 5 days, pinned in the canyon - doing everything he could to stay alive hoping beyond hope that somebody would find him.  But finally, on the 5th day, he came to the conclusion that if he didnt do something drastic, he was going to die.

So he did do something drastic He took out his pocket knife and cut his arm off  broke the bone  and then climbed out of the canyon and hiked 8 miles until he came across some other people who helped him get out of the wilderness.

Its gruesome, I know  but think about it  if it was you  could you do it?  If you knew that it was a choice between living to see tomorrow with one hand  or dying right there in the canyon with two hands could you and I do it?

I think this perfectly illustrates what Jesus is saying today.  What has us pinned in the canyon?  How is Satan holding us down?  If there is anything in our lives that is causing us to sin, cut it off better to go to heaven with one hand, than to go to hell with two hands.

We all have SOMETHING we need to cut off.   Yeah, Jesus may not seriously want us to cut off body parts but he IS seriously talking about taking RADICAL ACTION.  Maybe TV is your downfall  throw away the TV.  Maybe were stingy and greedy with our money  if that is causing us to sin  cut it off!  If alcohol is our problem  dump it out.  If lust is your problem, get rid of the things that lead you into that temptation.  I know thats particularly a problem for men, but I understand some women struggle with that as well.
But theres another Radical teaching in the Gospel we shouldnt overlook.  Jesus says that whoever causes somebody else to sin  it would be better if they were thrown into the sea.  So even if we are not committing the sin, if something we do CONTRIBUTES to someone else sinning, we share the guilt.  How we dress  how we act  how we speak  peer pressure if anything I do contributes to somebody else being led into temptation it would be better if I was thrown into the sea with a millstone around my neck.
Its time we stop watering down the Gospel Jesus is calling for RADICAL discipleship.  We are not going to STUMBLE into HeavenWell only find if we SEEK it.  Well only experience heaven if we make radical change in our lives.  Ask God to point out the things in your life where Satan has us pinned.  Whatever draws us to sin OR however we contribute to someone elses sin  bring it to confession

 and cut it off.

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