26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)
PAY A PRICE
Look at what Jesus says in the gospel today. One of the most difficult sayings. Jesus says; If your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off… and if your leg causes you to sin, cut it off…..and if your eye should cause you to sin, pluck it off….. And to all these things he adds and says ‘it is better for you to enter into life crippled (Without one hand)……It is better for you to enter into life lame (without one leg)…… and it is better for you to enter into life blind (without one eye)……than going to hell with all these things. Now, what does all this mean?
Was Jesus saying that he wanted only the crippled, lame and the blind to enter his kingdom? Or the other way around, Just imagine and see. If and only if all of us should follow these things, I do not know how many of us will be sitting here with all out bodily parts intact. Quite scary to imagine. Is it not? Does you think that Jesus wants all these from us? Yes. But in what way? It is here we need to be clear. I heard of a great father of the church, Origin who castigated himself after reading Jesus’ saying about celibacy, that there are some who make themselves Eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. Poor man! No, not even Jesus would have appreciated that. Then, how to understand these sayings of Jesus. What was he teaching his disciples and us when he said all these things? Well, there are two ways of understanding these sayings.
One: Through these Jesus is saying “Be prepared to pay a price for eternal life.” I.e. what he was telling them was, be prepared to pay a price or any price for sake of entering into the kingdom of God. When it comes to the shove, when the situation demands, be prepared even to loose your limbs, legs, and head for the sake of the kingdom of God. That is what he meant when he said in some other place “He who loves his life will loose it and he who loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the kingdom of God will save it.” So Jesus was asking them: Are you ready to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of entering into the kingdom of God or eternal life. In other words, are you ready and willing to love the kingdom of God above all things? When it comes to the matter of choice, are you ready to give up anything and everything, even you life for the sake of the kingdom of God. Are you ready to pay a price?
Look at the life of Jesus. He himself paid a price. And look at the lives of saints and martyrs. Saints and martyrs were people who were prepared to pay a price for the sake of the kingdom. Some gave up their lives and shed their blood. Some gave up their families, some gave up their countries and traveled abroad, some gave up their health and wealth. Some made great sacrifices for it. Some made little sacrifices for it. But they all counted.
Look at the life of Fr. Damien the Leper, who was canonized few years back on October 6th. He gave up his comfort and lived among the lepers to serve the lepers and in the process contracted leprosy and lost his limbs and legs and died. It costed him his life. Therese of Lisieux, whose relics are in England for veneration and whose feast is Oct. 1st; she made little and little sacrifices every day. Smiling at people who hurt her, being kind to the people who were rude to her and putting up with little inconvenience with extra-ordinary gentleness and love. And she showed us the little way to life or heaven. Yes! Kingdom of God needs a price to be paid. Often we are driven by a notion that Jesus did everything for us and we do not need to do anything. That is true We should not deny what Jesus has done for us. But I believe that at the same time we need to pay a price too. Look at the last Judgement scene in Mathew 25:33 ff. Jesus asks them, what price did you pay or you did not pay. What it all means is; don’t take salvation for granted. Work for it.
Secondly, be prepared or be ready to disassociate yourself from all those things and people who will lead you away from life, who will lead you into sin. Keep away from evil. I remember my spiritual director saying often, Avoid the occasion of sin. If your T.V or a certain programme on it is leading you into sin. Keep away from it. So also the computer, or the club or pub. Anything that is cause of sin, keep away from it. Have you heard of Diabetes people’s legs and hand being amputated? Why? Because it is dangerous to the over all health of the person. So also with the spiritual health.
So let us take home these two lessons. Don’t take salvation for granted. Be prepared to pay any price. Secondly, Avoid all the occasions of sin. Amen.
Fr. Showreelu Simham