In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus does not speak lightly. In fact, our Lord is using hyperbole in order to stress important truths: avoid creating scandal and do whatever it takes to avoid sin. Yes, the Lord is slow to anger and full of compassionate, merciful love. Mercy and justice go together and are both found in God. Love demands both mercy and justice and because of this great love our Lord tells us how important it is that we avoid leading others to sin:
“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.” Mk 42
The scriptures, the moral and doctrinal beliefs of the Church, and our own conscience can give us the knowledge necessary to know what is right and wrong. However, to put this into practice and therefore create no scandal can come only by living a life of holiness. Prayer and total dependence on God’s grace are necessary.
The warning of Jesus goes to the heart of the current scandals in the Church; scandals are bound to happen, but woe to them who cause them. Let us be careful not to judge the hearts of men or harbor any hateful thoughts. Our God is a just God and he will repay. Let us do what we can so that these things never happen again and to help the victims, but never let our peace and confidence in God be lost. We leave the judgment to the Lord; for who are we to judge? Only by God’s grace go I…
And this grace will see us through, but love demands that we do all we can to cooperate. Great love calls for great love and this means that we must love what is good and hate what is evil. Evil, like cancer, must be cut out cleanly and totally and must be avoided like the plague:
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off…And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” Mk 43
The power of sin and evil is greater than our own human natural powers. We must have the humility to depend on God for help and to avoid the occasions of sin. Whatever the addiction or sinful behavior, let us make a resolution to do whatever it takes: throw away the bottles, the computer, the TV in order to be free! Let us be prudent and seek counsel as to the best means to avoid these occasions, but always have the attitude to be ready to do whatever it takes to love and follow the Lord.