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The Grace of Knowing You
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. 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 it 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.'”
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for these moments of quiet to reflect on your divine message for me. Help me to draw from this time some transformative thoughts for my day.
- Whoever Is Not against Us Is for Us: Our Lord offered his disciples and all believers a beautiful lesson here on Christian unity. How blessed we would be if we could focus as effortlessly on what brings us together as we do on what drives us apart. To love Christ with all of our heart, mind, body, and soul can’t help but lead us to embrace and love his Church since Christ is the head of his Church, and we are its many parts (1 Corinthians 12). Only by loving Christ can we hope to unite ourselves to those within the Church (especially those whom we find difficult or with whom we disagree), and those who battle against us from without. When we cultivate a personal love of Christ, we are fortifying ourselves to become his peacemakers, builders, and uniters in a world fraught with division. St. Paul counsels us, “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12: 21), and we receive that good when we spend time with Christ and live out our personal mission.
- Our Reward: Christ promised that if we give a cup of water to someone in his name we will be rewarded. By this, he makes clear that the most humble, simple, loving actions in this life can bear important consequences for eternity. How often do we deeply reflect on this revelation of Christ? One day, we will receive a reward, our “crown” as St. James described it (James 1:12). Imagine! Sr. Faustina shared, “Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures” (Diary, 1789-1790).
- Damnation: Although Christ spoke of heavenly reward in this Scripture passage, he also warned us that causing someone to sin can result in our own damnation. Yet, damnation will never be forced upon us. We will have chosen it by our actions in this life. “To obtain salvation we must tremble at the thought of being lost, and tremble not so much at the thought of hell, as of sin, which alone can send us thither. He who dreads sin avoids dangerous occasions, frequently recommends himself to God, and has recourse to the means of keeping himself in the state of grace. He who acts thus will be saved; but for him who lives not in this manner it is morally impossible to be saved (St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! I want to follow your holy will out of love, but I am also sometimes fearful of eternal punishment. In these moments of intimacy with you, calm my fears and purify my love so that I may have confidence on the day of judgment, knowing you are Love (1 John 4).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on the ability I have to know you and pray ardently for those who don’t know you.
For Further Reflection: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven…But Never Dreamed of Asking by Peter Kreeft.
Written by Maribeth Harper.