Feb 24, 2011 - Thursday Meditation (Let's Set A Godly Standard!) The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young? Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time Sirach 5:1-8 Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4+6 Mark 9:41-50 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means 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 hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." Meditation by Don Schwager Do you want to be on fire with God’s all-consuming love? Paul the Apostle tells us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). God's love purifies our hearts and compels us to express charity towards our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. We were created in love for love. The charity we show to our neighbor in his need expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant goodness and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century church father wrote: “God never asks his servants to do what is impossible. The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available. It is poured out like water upon all. God furnished to each person according to his will the ability to do something good. None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.’” Ask the Holy Spirit to transform your heart by the fire of his love that you may wholly desire what is good for your neighbor. Was Jesus’ exaggerating when he urged his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences? Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young? What does Jesus mean when he says "have salt in yourselves"? Salt served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling. Salt was used as a symbol of fellowship and the common meal. The near-Eastern expression to betray the salt meant to betray one's Master or some person who was owed loyalty and devotion. Leonardo da Vinci in his painting of the Last Supper depicts Judas in the act of tipping over the salt shaker, thus symbolically indentifying himself as the betrayer of his Master. Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves, and penetrates, so the disciple must be as salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve, and penetrate that society for the kingdom of God and of his righteousness and peace. What did Jesus mean by the expression "salted with fire" and "salt becoming saltless"? Salt was often put in ovens to intensify the heat. When the salt was burned off and no longer useful it was thrown out on the road or on the roof top where it would easily get trodden upon. Perhaps Jesus wanted to contrast useful salt used for giving flavor and for preserving food with salt which was burned and no longer of much benefit, to encourage his disciples to be faithful witnesses and to not neglect the opportunity to influence others for the kingdom of God through the witness of their lives and their testimony to the power of the kingdom of God. "Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the gospel to others. May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and freedom from sin and the corruption of evil." Supplementary Reading Love Gives - with No Strings Attached! "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13 Gifts. We all love to receive them - if there is no string attached! Would you accept a gift if there was a string attached to it? Indeed, could it truly be called a gift if a string is attached? If a string is attached then isn't it an exchange? The greatest gift of all is the gift of life. Jesus gave us this gift. He gave His life for you and for me. And, if we accept the gift, we can have abundant life in the here, and eternal life in the hereafter. Jesus stands on the porch of your heart, knocking softly with this life-saving gift. Think if you needed a heart transplant and someone stood knocking on your door with a new heart - free! So it is with Jesus. It is free. No strings attached. All you have to do is open the door, accept the gift, and have a new heart, a new life. There is no exchange. He doesn't say, "I will give you this gift in exchange for…" No! It is a free gift! So, if you have never accepted this gift - what are you waiting for? Would you wait for a new heart if you needed a heart transplant and were going to die? The truth is that you will die with a spiritual heart transplant. But be born anew! If you have accepted this gift - then remember it and, out of gratitude (not trying to earn the gift - because then it is not a gift), give away this same love to those around you - love with no strings attached! Lord, forgive me for thinking I don't need You, that I can do it on my own. I have seen that when I try to live on my own, everything is a mess. Today, I accept the gift of a new heart, a new life, love with no strings attached. Today I will give this gift away to someone else who needs it. I will pay it forward - with no strings attached. Amen. - By Sheila S. Coleman
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