John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
No one really likes the idea of cutting off their own limbs … in fact, I do not doubt that Christ was hoping his words in today’s Gospel would be shocking! The focus here, instead, should be on the lengths Christ is willing to ask us to go to eradicate sin from our lives. Unfortunately, we are fallen creatures, but even in the midst of that, we remain beloved children of God. God wants to spend eternity with us in Heaven. To that end, God needs us to realize how sin really does harm our relationship with God and that we must be fervent in our desire and attempts to work against any inclination toward sin. The Evil Spirit is always on the prowl; St. Ignatius warns us of that fact regularly. We must constantly seek the grace of God to work against the very real and seductive grip that evil has on us so that we can ultimately fulfill God’s desire for us to spend eternity in heaven with God.
Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can only expect from you. Accomplish your will within me-even in spite of me.
—St. Claude de Colombiere, SJ