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Monday, September 28, 2015

REFLECT: What Do You Need to Cut Out of Your Life?

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept 27, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

In today’s Gospel (Mark 9:38-43, 47-48),we have two parts. In the first part, Our Lord reminds His disciples that a true disciple can never contradict His teachings: “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.”

In the second part, Our Lord explains that if we want to attain eternal life, than we must take His words to heart: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. And if your eye causes you to sin,
pluck it out. For it will be better for us to enter heaven with one hand or one foot or one eye than to enter Gehenna with both eyes or with both feet or with both hands."
As we reflect on these words, some will say that Jesus is simply exaggerating. These words of our Lord sound harsh! 

Well, of course, Our Lord doesn’t want us to literally cut off our limbs if they cause us to sin. Otherwise, there would be a whole lot of persons maimed. However, He is using these strong words in today’s Gospel for a reason. He is not exaggerating. No! Jesus uses these radical images to show us the seriousness of what He is saying! 

My brothers and sisters, Jesus wants to save us from mortal danger. Sin kills the soul! We must overcome the near occasion of sin. We need to cut out whatever may become an obstacle to our salvation. He wants us to be desperate to rid our lives of the things that put us into spiritual jeopardy. 

What could these things be for us today? Maybe we have to unplug the computer. Maybe we have to break off a relationship. Maybe we have to avoid a certain place. Maybe we have to cut out an addiction. Whatever may lead us into sin, we must cut off and cut it out! 

Sometimes we may hear in the news about someone who is forced to make a drastic decision in order to save their physical life. For example, I remember a few years ago hearing a story of a man who was trapped in his kayak while he was on a trip in a river. His kayak and his leg got stuck under a tree in the rushing rapids and, as desperate as he tried, he couldn’t dislodge either one of them. It quickly became apparent he had a terrible choice to make – either drown in the middle of nowhere as the water got higher and higher or escape the trap any way he could.

He faced a terrible choice. He decided to snap his own leg to allow his friends to drag him to safety.

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord is calling us to recognize the same sort of desperate need to act in our own spiritual life. We too can easily get trapped, not under the weight of water, but under the weight of sin, and we need to make a desperate life or death decision. It was not

an easy decision for that kayaker to break his own leg to save his life. So too, it is not an easy decision to break off sinful ways in order to cut  loose from whatever restrains us from true freedom in God. 

But, this is what we have to do if we want to enter heaven! For it is better to save our souls than to forsake them by choosing the wide and easy road of the world. Those who love their lives in this world will lose them! But those who lose their life now for the sake of truth and holiness will save it! 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus refers to a place called Gehenna. In Jewish Rabbinic scripture, Gehenna is the destination of the wicked. It is a fiery place where the wicked are punished after they die. Originally, Gehenna referred to a garbage dump in a deep narrow valley right outside the walls of Jerusalem where fires were kept burning to keep down the stench. According to the Hebrew Bible, pagans once sacrificed their children to the idol Moloch in the fires in Gehenna.
Child Sacrifice to the god Moloch
My brothers and sisters, in His reference to Gehenna, Our Lord is speaking of hell. There is a hell! It is a real place where the damned souls go. And, with the rapidly increasing temptations in our world, more souls are risking hell today more than ever. This is why the Blessed Mother taught the children to
pray the Fatima prayer after each decade of the Rosary, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.” 

We all received sanctifying grace at our Baptism, yet grave sin will separate us from God's Life. Therefore, to avoid sin, we must cut ourselves off from the near occasion of sin. We must cut out those unhealthy relationships that lead us away from salvation. We must cut out those lifestyles that contradict God’s teachings and ways. 

What is even worse, Our Lord says, is when we cause others to sin, especially children and the innocent. Jesus says,
“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.” 

Our Lord is saying that it is serious when we influence others into what is not of God. We see this manifested in our society today in many ways. 

How often young women in our day and age lose their virginity because of the pressure and influence of their boyfriends or others in society? 

How easy we can lead others into sin through our words and attitudes. We can be influenced by others to cheat,  steal, lie, or gossip.

My brothers and sisters, our influence on others matter! The choices we make in our lives matter! 

We live in a society that has no fear of God, no fear of eternal damnation, no fear of hell! This is why we need to make desperate decisions in order to save our souls and lead other into all truth. 

Fr John Paul Shea 
Our Lord has given us the means for overcoming sin. He has told us to pray. In fact, there are many prayers given to us through our Church to help us: The Rosary, the Saint Michael prayer, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Our Lord has given us the gift of the Sacrament of Confession. Use it often!

As we come to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, let us remember the seriousness of  today’s Gospel. Is there something God is asking you to cut out of your life? Ask God! Now pray for the conversion of all poor souls who do not know the saving power of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. Great way of reaching out. Still we must knock it up a notch. Instead of one Holy Rosary maybe mix it up and add the chaplet of the Sacred Heart and Holy Wounds? After all the terrible diabolical abominations within our Congress and Senate and the agent of the evil one in the white housein under a year is proof enough that Satan is running out of time! He's pressuring, deceiving, lying and corrupting everyone.
    Our Lord said he did not come into this world to bring us all together. But to set father against wife daughter against mother, etc... Who is first in our lives? The God of Abraham, Moses, Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, or Peter?
    The Holy Bible or those who choose the heresy of KJV?
    We are in deadly spiritual combat with beings not of flesh and blood. But with pure spirits that are in high places, manipulating mankind, morals, abominations in the sight of the Lion of Judea.
    Pray like never before! All our souls are at stake

  2. Thank you Rev Fr Paul Shea for speaking Persona Christi.Please remember me, a sinner who needs to eliminate many unhealthy patterns and habits.
    Thank you for your YES to Jesus.
    Warm regards and prayers,
    Edwin Rodrigues
    Please pray for Enuncio our son,who's appearing for his Class XII Board Exams. Please pray that he discerns his vocation....as God wants it.

  3. Hope not to make many mistakes. I still have wrong pen. Too wide. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN OUR MIND. This is to know God so loves us He gave us our own Guardian Angel. So very special. The other of great importance is Fatima. Sometimes I feel many have no idea how important this Appearance to the shepard children has to do with our life. Our Blessed Mother gave a huge amout of information & warnings how we must live our life. Just imagine what these youg chidren heard now a Saint Siser Lucy. Saw things. Really saw what Scripture warns us about. We must sa a rosary eveyday, adding the prayer Mary taught the children. Hell is real. No one wants to go there. Our Motherwants us all saved. By Her appearance she proved the words of her Son, jesus Christ. He did tell us the way to Heaven is narrow; path to Hell wide. Our Blessed Mother wants us saved, this is why She chose the little children to give us all the warnings. They are all true. The things that were told & shown to the shepard children are all true. It takes work to get to Heaven. If this not true, The children would not have received such an alarming warnig of what we must do to get to Heaven. We must say the rosary every day, and live a life pleasig to God. Yes this does take work we do carry the stain of our first parents. Jesus died Once for us by doing so he remved the demon of the original sin that bound us. So many have no idea what the Crucifiction was for. It is not saved once always saved, as so many of other faiths believe as well as some Catholics. We tend to become numb about what is required of his in order to reach Heaven. This is our goal & it takes following words of our Lord Jesus. Read scripture. ST PAUL TELLS US put on the full body armour of God. Prepare for our salvation. Then because we have'nt Our Mother appeared. To the innocent to tell us again what we must do to gain Heaven. Do you see how hard the Pope is working for souls, also many of our Catholic churches take part in oassig the "Baton" from oone church to other for people to stay after mass for the rosary. At this time it is in Alabama (EWTN) it will then be sent to Ireland. All these things taking place should tell where we are. I notice the Church I go to always had the rosary said befor Mass. It ended. I will ask for it to be brought back. It only takes a person of the church to do this befor Mass begins. Yes we have not heeded the message & warnings of Our Blessed Mother of Fatima to Heart. Yes Jesus wonders also, will he fin faith on earth when He returns. We must know life is very different now we are in the very midst of evil. People have become lazy, numb& with no fear, but I do tell you do as Mary said at Fatima. Read All that was said at Fatima. Hear what St Lucy & the children saw & heard. THIS IS ABOUT 100yrs ago & now people are starting to realize the severity of Hell should we fail. Keep all this in mind. & do as we should have been. Just think the patience. How long?