Sunday, September 27, 2015

Too Small?

   Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time   B 

Reflecting on this Sunday’s gospel,
someone shared the following story:
            Years ago, I had to change a flat tire at night.
            While attempting to remove the tire,
            the jack shifted unexpectedly, and the car fell off the jack.
            My fingers were pinned underneath the tire.
            Because the full weight of the car
            kept my fingers pressed to the road,
            I could not pull my fingers free, no matter how hard I tried.
            After some time, praise God, some passersby found me
            and lifted the van just enough to allow me to pull my fingers free.…
            Although my fingers are a small part of my body,
            they prevented my entire body from being free.
            If no one came to help me, I would have faced two choices:
            1) cut off my fingers so my body would be free to live, or
            2) keep my fingers and have my whole body die
            because a small part of it was captive.

Just hearing that story makes your hand ache, doesn't it?
It also takes some difficult—even disturbing—words of Jesus
and makes them much clearer.

What’s pinning you down? 
What’s holding you captive?
Is there some persistent sin you cling to, or that clings to you?
We must not deceive ourselves;
we must abandon all our little compromises.
We must not regard any sin as so small,
treat any occasion of sin so lightly,
as if it didn’t have the potential to do great harm to souls.
Jesus pulls no punches with us this Sunday:
we need to root out from our lives
whatever threatens our relationship with God—
and spare no pain in doing so.
It may feel like we’re cutting off one of our own limbs,
but if we want to know real life and happiness, real freedom and peace,
such things simply have to go.

A certain horror of sin and fear of its high cost
is a rather healthy thing.
But we mustn’t allow it to immobilize us—
afraid to act at all, as if everything were probably sinful.
While it’s true that no sin is so small
that we shouldn’t make every effort to avoid it,
neither is any act of charity so small
as to not be worthy of our efforts:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink…
…will surely not lose his reward.”
If God is love, then wherever true love is found,
there is God—even if his presence is unrecognized;
and wherever you find the love of God,
there is Jesus Christ—even if his name is unknown;
and wherever you find Jesus Christ,
there is his body, the Church—
even in the most hidden manner—
standing as the gateway to eternal life.

St. Dominic Savio—a student of St. John Bosco—
died at the tender age of 14 back in 1857.
When he received his First Holy Communion at the age of 7,
he made four promises to the Lord
that he wrote down in a little book
and read again from time to time;
the final one was a resolution
to always choose death rather than sin.
Jesus warns us about causing one of his little ones to sin;
here’s one of his little ones 
showing us an altogether different path.

The choices we make now—
for good or for evil, and no matter how small—
have eternal consequences.
So don’t allow any sin to pin down your soul.
And never let any opportunity to act with love
needlessly pass you by.

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