Reflection for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 30, 2018
In his book The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis draws attention to a common mistake Christians make when seeking God’s forgiveness for their sins. He suggests that when we think we are asking God to forgive us, in reality we are merely asking God to accept our excuses. We rationalize our wrongdoing, assign blame to external factors, and ignore “the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don’t cover.” Sometimes we may be aware of such omissions, but often we come to God with good intentions to improve our habits while unintentionally discounting our direct role in their unraveling. Lewis urges us to show God our full selves, even the most blemished parts beyond rationalizations. These might be inexcusable, but they are not unforgivable. He writes, “When you go to the doctor you show him the bit of you that is wrong—say, a broken arm. It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your legs, and eyes, and throat are all right.” In this weekend’s Gospel, the disciples alert Jesus to a person driving out demons who does not follow his way. Jesus in essence cautions them not to assign blame for sin elsewhere, but rather to admit their own carelessness that prevents union with God. If our hands lead us to sin, or our feet, or our eyes, or any other part of ourselves, God desires that we openly present these to him, quit our excuses, and receive his mercy.
At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us…. 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.’”
Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving to God the creator triumphantly raise,
who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us, by guiding us on to the end of our days.
God’s banners are o’er us, pure light goes before us, a pillar of fire shining forth in the night,
till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished as forward we travel from light into Light.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing with glad adoration a song let us raise,
till all things now living unite in thanksgiving to God in the highest, hosanna and praise!