A reading from the gospel according to Mark 9:41-50:
41 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.
42 “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.
43 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.
45 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.
47 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,
48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
49 “Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavour? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
Reflection: Reward and Punishment
Verse 41 of the gospel reading above shows Jesus advising His disciples to accept whatever help is given to them such as a cup of drinking water. Sometimes, people question church leaders accepting assistance from donors with doubtful backgrounds. However, there are really occasions when the need is more important than the source.
On the other hand, everyone is called to support the work of salvation. Although some congregations or church communities do not impose mandatory tithing, each member must be generous enough to make sure that the needs of the church are met.
Of course, we don’t give a cup of water to another on the sole reason that the other person belongs to Christ. We show kindness or assistance to any human being and even to animals. Let kindness be the mark of every man or woman.
The next verses give us stern warning that our evil actions or behavior has grave consequences. Saint Paul tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Yet we always do evil things only to regret later. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit plus self-discipline can make us avoid temptation. Like Saint Paul, we can rely on the grace of God whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We are witnesses to scandals both within and outside the church. Many times the very people we look up to as our shepherds are the ones who hinder us in our journey to the Kingdom. We keep praying for them that they too may overcome their weaknesses and that their wickedness does not weaken the church. After all, they too are humans like us.
Briefly, the gospel message is that even the smallest kindness that we do is valuable and that we must exert every effort to shun what is abominable in the sight of God. In other words, let us make sure that whatever we say or do gives glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).