Readings for Thursday February 24, 2011
First Reading: Sirach 5:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Mark 9:41-50
“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 if 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. (Mk 9:42-48)
Have you ever stopped to think about the importance of Heaven? It is not often a question that we ask ourselves, especially in the midst of such chaotic lives. But regardless of how busy we are, it is important to stop and think about where we are going to spend eternity. Our Lord talks about the importance of Heaven in today's gospel. He tells us that it is so important, that you should be willing to do anything to get there. We should not let anything hold us back. And what is the one thing that can hold us back? Sin, it is sin that can hold us back from reaching our goal of heaven. But Jesus challenges us and tells that if there is anything that causes us to sin in our life, then we should get rid of it ... heaven is that important!
We each have a choice in this life; we can choose to work towards heaven, or we can choose the other place. (eternal fire anyone?) And while this thought can certainly be overwhelming and place a lot of stress on us, it shouldn't, because the great thing is that we do not have to do it by ourself. In fact, that isn't the way we should go about it at all! The Lord tell us that we should not rely on ourselves, but rather on Him. As it says in Sirach: "Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart." (Sir. 5:2) The Lord does not use the sink or swim theory, but He is there as a good, gentle and patient Father, only seeking to help us along this journey and helping to get home to Him. If we are willing to trust in Him, and rely on Him no matter what, then He will help us resist the thing that can hold us back from heaven, and we can then spend eternity with Him in paradise.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help lead and guide us through this life. We thank you and praise you for all the blessings you bestow. Help us to be good stewards of all that we have, and help us to never stray from your ways. Lord, we pray for all those who have fallen away from your love, may they be brought back to your safe and gentle arms forever. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.