February 23, 2017
Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr
The Gospel Today
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
“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.
“Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
REFLECTION (Sem. Edgar R. Calma)
A person becomes popular nowadays in the front page of leading newspapers and topic of netizens in the social media because he / she did something that inspires people or engages in scandalous activities. When someone inspires, he moves people to do good by disciplining oneself and gazing only to the essentials in life. To do otherwise may result to influencing people to sin, wickedness and confusion.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus gives us a stern warning, “whoever cause one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone was put around his neck and he was thrown into the sea. (Mk 9:42)” On the other hand, He also gives a great challenge and invitation for everyone to be salted with fire (cf Mk 9:49). Jesus made use of the images of salt and fire to convey to us their purifying (or preserving) and refining effects. Salt when used in food purifies or preserves while fire has refining effects which are both necessary ingredients in our spiritual development.
As Christians in this modern times, we are all called to become faithful witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not an easy mission to accomplish because it is vital to ask the question where are we leading people! Do we lead and inspire people to Christ? Or do we manipulate people for our own benefit and to address our own need in the guise of leading people to Christ? Because if our internal motives and purpose are not purified, refined and salted with fire, there is a greater tendency to lead people to ourselves by feeding our ego, control tendencies or needs and not to Christ. Before even discussing cutting off any part of the body that may lead us and others to sin and wickedness, it is far more important to look deep into our selves, motives, intentions and goals. It is in the core of one’s self that chipping off through the process of purification and real refinement happens. External manifestations of these internal activity are seen by embracing humiliation in the work area, suffering in silence for the family, patiently enduring one’s pains and challenges caused by other people and disciplining one’s self for a greater purpose in life.