Tag Archives: sin

Unteachable – no reason to believe Heaven views us differently!

Twenty Seventh Sunday.

It’s a tough one!

Bear in mind that it comes on the back of: “And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…” (last Sunday’s Gospel, Twenty Sixth Sunday).

Divorce and remarriage are an accepted part of life. To suggest otherwise is to be considered outdated and backward.

Yet here in the proclamation of this Sunday’s Gospel reading we are once again confronted by the teaching of Jesus which says that divorce and remarriage are not, and never were, a part of God’s plan.

Jesus turns to the teaching of Moses and in doing so he must have known that Moses allowed divorce and remarriage.

In keeping Moses in the conversation Jesus is firstly putting the Ten Commandments centre stage; and secondly, he’s taking the opportunity to correct the teaching of Moses which allowed for divorce and remarriage.

Interestingly, he doesn’t blame Moses. Rather, he blames Moses generation, the masses, from Moses right up to his day, about 1600 years of people divorcing and remarrying: “It was because you were so unteachable” that Moses allowed you to divorce and remarry. There’s no reason to believe that Heaven views us any differently!

Just about everybody seems to have expected Jesus to go with Moses teaching allowing divorce and remarriage – as most people do today – as evidenced by the disciples bringing the matter up again in the privacy of the house.

That Jesus turns to the Ten Commandments should not be a surprise.

He guarded the commandments carefully saying that Heaven and earth would disappear before the Ten Commandments. That’s a huge statement. But there’s more: “Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matt 5:17

In placing divorce and remarriage in the context of breaching the sixth commandment (he actually uses the word “guilty” of adultery), in binding divorce and remarriage to adultery so tightly, and given his understanding of the place of the Ten Commandments in the working out of our salvation, Jesus is raising a red flag 🚩 here about divorce, remarriage and our eternal welfare.

It’s a tough one indeed.

What I haven’t dealt with here is Heaven’s understanding of the purposes of marriage and our everyday understanding – they’re very different and it will go some way to explain our difficulty with Jesus teaching.

But that too is another days work…

Jesus shock – cutting off hands and tearing out eyes!

Twenty Sixth Sunday

Who was this outsider that he’d figured out the significance, if not the identity, of Jesus?

“But he’s not one of us” the disciples complain.

He wasn’t part of the twelve. He didn’t have the benefit of sharing intimately in Jesus inner circle. Yet here he is, ministering in the power of Jesus.

Here we glimpse the wonder of the Father’s revelation which is always capable of catching us offside so to speak. The Father is full of surprises!

Jesus corrects his inner circle; he may not be one of us in the sense that he’s not physically present in this group, but he knows me… and that’s all he needs.

Essentially this passage is teaching us that Jesus is everything, that knowing and recognizing him is everything – not the group we belong to – and that giving a cup of water to someone just because she belongs to Christ is hugely significant because the giving of the water is really about the recognition of Jesus.

The recognition of Jesus is everything.

But then Jesus turns his attention to sin, to the power that is his absolute opposite.

That he swings so suddenly – almost violently – to bring up his opposite suggests he wants us to hear what he has to say.

It’s Jesus shock!

It’s shock tactics so he can get our attention – “thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck… cut off your hand… tear out your eye…”

It’s a shocking message, hyperbole obviously, but nonetheless a very simple message that Jesus really wants us to hear.

Do not sin.

Sin – without repentance – is the highway to hell!

So the sky didn’t fall when we repealed the 8th.

A recent documentary commented that the sky didn’t fall when a majority voted to repeal the 8th.

I was fascinated that such a comment was even included.

A car window sticker from the failed campaign to save the 8th Amendment

I have no doubt that we’ll pay a heavy price for abortion procured as a human right. It is more offence added to offence that God already carries. How much offence would you carry before turning? Why are you like that? I put it to you that you’re reflecting eternity. God is profoundly gracious but anyone who thinks that there’ll be no cost – that we’re freeloading – is delusional. We do not live in a meaningless universe.

Even mercy costs. Just try hugging the person who has hurt you. Recently I listened intently to a man sharing on live radio how he was struggling with the release from prison of the person who’d taken the life of his daughter. The man’s struggle illustrates the cost of mercy and is a reflection of the eternal, the sometimes crucifying cost.

The God-given answer to all that offends God – and the universe itself – is a single word; repent. Make mercy a little less crucifying!

The matter is much more nuanced than a distant God giving the order that the sky should fall. It doesn’t work like that.

Besides, if we could connect cause and effect as easily as the comment suggests – we repealed today and the next day, or some days later, the sky fell – we’d be devoid of free will and belief would be inevitable.

Christianity, like God, is incarnational. We are the weeds and wheat or the barren tree that’s cut down, or spared. The teaching of Jesus always becomes our flesh, it becomes our lived experience.

The best illustration of how the sky actually falls is found in the message of Fatima. Our Lady told the 3 children that if people did not stop offending God another war – a more terrible war, World War II – would break out.

It’s a classic example of how God works; three children who couldn’t read or write rather than the best minds of the time know where the world is heading!

There are roughly 20 years between the events at Fatima and the start of World War II. That’s 20 years for humanity to change – to repent – to heed the message of Fatima and prevent World War II, to prevent the “sky falling” so to speak. I suspect that with each passing year it became a little more difficult to turn back, a little more unlikely.

Fatima teaches us that we decide – the people decide – if there’s war or peace and it is determined by our relationship with the divine.

Fatima teaches us that the “sky falling” is generational, it unfolds gradually over decades, and perhaps longer, incrementally, just as World War II was many decades in the making and dragged several generations into its horror.

Fatima teaches us that the “sky falls” through human agents and activity, through cultural, socio-economic and political developments just as Hitler and World War II developed within the cultural, socio-economic and political situation in Germany and Europe at the time.

Fatima teaches us that the “sky falls” from within human history, that it falls as a result of the somewhat mysterious work of the power of sin, befriended and endorsed within the body of humanity; it teaches us that this unchecked sin, enfleshed in our history, was the real driving force behind Hitler’s rise to power and World War II.

Above all else, Fatima teaches us that offending God without turning back, without repentance, always creates hell, both in time and in eternity.

Ultimately Fatima teaches us that the sky does indeed fall.

Can we make any sense of our uninvited suffering?

Try to receive your suffering as a privilege, or as the Medugorje visionary Vicka who suffers so much herself has said, as a gift from God.

Try. It’s easer said than done! But it doesn’t have to be something big, it might be nothing more than having to endure several failed attempts to insert a cannula. Or an everyday difficulty.

Don’t waste your suffering as Pope St. John Paul once said.

We struggle to understand this because we do not have a deep connection with the person of Jesus, his life and teaching, and with the true meaning of Christmas and Easter.

We pay more attention now to mindfulness and various other spiritual practices – good in themselves… as far as they go – but we do not have a deep connection with Jesus born of Mary, the son of the living God.

Jesus born of Mary is Heaven torn open, exposed… the mystery revealed, waiting for us to jump in, he is God who came down, lived among us, attempting – and still attempting – to reach us, leaving us a rather detailed understanding of eternity, how it works, what it’s like, what to expect…

We have been formed by divine teaching… but you’d hardly know it. He has revealed so much of the mystery.

He taught us there’s a definitive standard – love – by which we will be judged.

He taught us that within this love there is ultimate justice and judgement.

He taught us that what we do to others we do to him… ouch 😣. Imagine the joy and the sorrow of that! Everything that happens on earth arrives into the heart of God.

He taught us that mercy costs, that forgiving an offense and embracing an offender is painful 😓. On a universal scale he illustrated this on the Cross.

Every time God forgives, the struggle and the suffering of the Cross continues… until the end of time.

Every sin creates a piece of hell on earth.

Every time there’s love – true love – the resurrection continues to happen on earth.

How much sin – offensive hurt – can a person endure before he turns? How much could you endure? Now apply the question to God.

For example, abortion alone – executed as a human right and which the majority have now decided is our choice – is horrendous suffering in the heart of God, beyond all human imagining.

Still, God remains gracious. It is grace beyond all human comprehension – a love so merciful that it astonishes even the angels – that prevents God turning, that prevents the partial and even the complete destruction of the earth 🌍.

At times it is Our Lady who is holding the line which is why she’s repeatedly asking for prayer and sacrifice – help me here! Sacrifice has a similar value to suffering in Heaven – provided each is freely offered.

The earth survives through the pure graciousness of God – but do not underestimate the cost.

When suffering comes our way we are given the opportunity to work intimately with God in the work of salvation, in sharing the burden of saving humankind.

When that suffering is borne or carried out of love for the Saviour – I want to help you Lord because I love you – we’re already well advanced in the communion of saints.

Sadly, for many it’s the deep connection with Jesus that’s missing when suffering comes our way and we’re left “like sheep without a shepherd…”

Death is not always the best possible outcome – but for those who die in God it doesn’t get any better!

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Mk 5:21-24,35-43

I couldn’t help but notice that they laughed at Jesus.

That hasn’t changed, they laugh at us too because we have faith. We’re ridiculed often.

And when Jesus had made his point no doubt they said, “she wasn’t really dead, we made a mistake!”

These things don’t change.

In last Sunday’s Gospel the disciples fear death by drowning Mk 4:35-41

So Jesus calms the storm, the disciples fear of death disappears to be replaced by “even the wind and the sea obey him”

They’re awestruck – their focus changes from the fear of death to his power over the the storm, over wind and rain…

So what happens next? Where does Jesus lead them?

To the encounter recorded in this Sunday’s Gospel… where Jesus leads his disciples back to confront death in the death of a little girl 👧

The loss of someone close to us always plunges us into grief, dark and heavy grief, horrible.

But who told us that death is the worse possible scenario for the deceased?

Jesus doesn’t fear death, he doesn’t consider it as the worse possible event – in last Sunday’s Gospel he’s asleep, in this Sunday’s Gospel he demonstrates his absolute authority even over death – on the contrary he fears sin, he fears offending his Father. According to Jesus there’s something much worse than death – offending God unto hell.

But for those who die in Christ death is the best possible scenario and anyone who dies in Christ is consumed by love; of which even the greatest human love is a dim – very dim – reflection. They have only one all consuming desire; to stay with God, and the desire to return is non-existent. They’re being totally consumed by loving fulfillment.

The best contemporary example I can give is Mirjana’s experience of Our Lady in Medugorje. It is important to grasp that when Mirjana sees Our Lady it’s not just a visionary experience, rather, Our Lady brings Heaven with her – after all she is of Heaven – and Mirjana is caught up in Heaven. The consequences are illuminating; Mirjana has only one desire, to stay with Our Lady which means to go with Our Lady (death). Mirjana says that when she’s with Our Lady not even the love she has for her daughters would bring her back, and when the experience ends Mirjana collapses into a deep darkness. It takes her weeks to recover… and she really struggles to go back to ordinary life, to ordinary love, to love that’s a very dim reflection of divine love.

It’s all consuming nature is like having a son or daughter in love with someone of whom you do not approve – try getting your point of view through to him or her! It’s all-consuming.

On the other hand those who do not die in Christ long to come back and un-do and re-do so much. This desire at that level, a burning desire incapable of being fulfilled, is more than enough punishment!