Jesus reveals the horrific punishment for those who cause others to sin and calls disciples to drastic action to avoid sin. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of the Fear of the Lord from the Holy Spirit so he can fear Hell and from being separated from God due to his sin and by building the Virtue of Fortitude so he can always rally to battle against temptation.
7th Week in Ordinary Time – Thursday – Mk 9:41-50
After calling disciples to be humble servants who care for vulnerable children, and the promise of blessings to those who offer kindnesses to others (a cup of water to the thirsty), Jesus urges men to avoid temptation and sin at all costs. Mincing no words, Jesus reveals it is better to be strangled and drowned with a huge millstone around one’s neck, than the fate that awaits those who purposefully cause a” little one” (child; someone vulnerable) in their care to sin. Jesus’ severe warning applies to disciples who sinfully cause scandal, promote false teachings, and who prey on the young and vulnerable.
Jesus confirms the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven and Hell, offering insights into the horrors of Hell. Hell is described as an “unquenchable fire” in which worms eternally feed on the flesh of souls who cannot die. From His words, it is clear that Hell is much worse than any agony on earth that men could imagine.
To help men better understand and avoid the horror of Hell, Jesus uses hyperbole (exaggeration) to describe the lengths that men should take to avoid temptation to any mortal sin which condemns a man to Hell. Jesus graphically says that a man should willingly gouge out an eye or cut off a hand or foot, if they lead a man into temptation to avoid Hell; it also means the eternal bliss of being united with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven is worth the greatest of sacrifices, even being maimed. Jesus urges men to be “salt”, striving to become holy and seeking to be a blessing of peace to others.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Jesus, the perfection of Justice, fiercely condemns sins against the young and calls men to Protect (a part of Justice) the innocent: Divine Judge, Jesus gives a preview of the just horrific punishment that awaits those who corrupt the young; Jesus, using exaggeration to make His point, urges extreme measures (cutting off of hands or feet; gouging out an eye) to avoid corrupting others and the horrific punishment of Hell. Of note, elsewhere (Mt 5:27-30), Jesus explicitly links these types of extreme measures to avoiding sexual sin (Lust).
Fear Hell and being separated from God
Realize: Recently, God’s mercy has been greatly emphasized in the Church but the reality of sin, Hell, and fear of God’s just punishment for sin has been deemphasized; this has led many Catholic men to falsely presume God’s mercy and to fail to confess their sins in the Sacrament of Penance. Every Catholic man should return to the perennial truth that Hell exists, God judges and sentences men to Hell for mortal sin, and that fear of the Lord is essential to faith (Prov 9:10, Isa 8:13, Mt 10:28) because it helps men repent and to seek holiness.
Believe: Reflect upon the Sin of Presumption (CCC 2091-2092) and Hell (CCC 1033-1037).
Pray: Holy Spirit, help me to have a visceral fear of the fires of Hell and give me the Gift of the Fear of the Lord so I despise my sins, fear being separated from You due to my sins, and quickly return to You in the Sacrament of Penance when I fall into sin.
Seek fortitude to battle against temptation
Realize: Having dominated Satan in the Temptation, Jesus urges men to be deadly serious about avoiding temptation.
Believe: Reflect upon Temptation (CCC 1808; 2846-2849; 2863).
Pray: Jesus, Conquerer of Satan, help me build the Virtue of Fortitude so that Ican courageously persevere when Satan seeks to tempt me.