In the Gospel of Mark 9:38-43 and 45-48, Jesus shows a special and ultimate concern to those who wish to inherit the kingdom.
If a hand, a foot, or an eye causes you to sin, Jesus commands “cut it off” or “pluck it out.” The responses to these are obviously not meant to be taken literally. Rather, Jesus wants his hearers to realize what is at stake to change attitudes and behaviour on our journey towards the heavenly kingdom. In order to receive the supreme value of life in God’s kingdom, we must be prepared to act vigorously against anything in our lives that would put us at risk.
Hands, feet, eyes are parts of our body and they are quintessential for our daily activities. However, if they are poisoned, the whole body will be affected severely for they have become stumbling blocks which prevent healing. Bodily images are used to remind us that the stumbling blocks on our spiritual journey can be things inside of us, such as bad thoughts, bad words, and bad actions. We should be decisive to act against anything that is evil. We must take serious actions and do it quickly to prevent evil spirits from taking dominion over our souls; otherwise we will lose sight of our eternal salvation, or even reject it when it is at hand.
Let us ask ourselves: To enter God’s kingdom, what should I cut off: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, or sloth? We also ask God for his grace so that we might be able to avoid any stumbling block, and let nothing become our stumbling block on our path to the eternal kingdom.
Fr Tang Phan