This past month we were privileged to watch a young athlete tagged “the blade runner”, and if you were like me, we cheered him on, hoping that he would do his best. His missing limbs were part of his triumph, his resiliency to be independent and lead a happy, productive life. But no one would wish this on another. We need our arms and legs.
 

Yet, in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us to “cut…off” limbs that cause another to be lead astray; to cause us to be stumbling blocks. How drastic!
 

Four times Jesus says, it would “be better for you….” here Jesus speaks to us with such candor, that there is nothing more important [not even our limbs] than our entering the kingdom of God and our not being a cause for others to be led astray and thus lose entering the kingdom. If anything gets in the way of bringing us or others to the life of the kingdom, get rid of it!
 

On the other hand, anyone who is furthering the kingdom in his name belongs to Jesus’ inner circle. These we do not prevent from acting as long as they act in his name. Mighty deeds can only be done by those who are in relationship with God, those acting in Jesus’ name.
 

Alone we are powerless. The inner circle is not determined by us and whom we choose to admit to the group of disciples,but by God and who God chooses to work in and through for the sake of the kingdom.
 

What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? What are the stumbling blocks that impede our acting in Jesus’ name? Prejudice? Past negative experiences with certain persons? Jealousy? Fears? Narrow-mindedness? Self-centeredness?
 

The Gospel invites us to go beyond our own stumbling blocks. Living the gospel as a faithful disciple requires us to take stock of our actions and how others perceive who we are and how we act. Discipleship means that everything we are and do flows from our relationship with Christ.
 

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  1. The second part of today’s Gospel contains a strong message for us who share the responsibility of fostering faith. It is indeed an awesome responsibility. Today’s Gospel reminds us that faith is a lifelong journey toward God. We don’t always get it all or even get it right. But we pray for the grace to acknowledge and build upon even the smallest signs of faith, in ourselves and in others. There are plenty of obstacles that might prevent the growth of faith. I pray that I am not contributing to the obstacles that might hinder another person’s faith in Jesus.

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