Thursday of the 7th Week of the Year

Thursday of the 7th Week of the Year

Mk 9:41-50

Temptations to Sin: The Simile of Salt


Salt lends flavor to things. Anyone knows how unpleasant a dish could be when salt is accidentally omitted in the preparations.

Salt was the earliest of all preservatives. To keep a thing from getting rotten salt was used. Dead meat left to itself went bad but pickled in salt, it retains its freshness. Salt defended against corruption.

Similarly, it is the task of every Christian to impart to society a new flavor and a new thrill as salt does to the dish. Jesus is challenging every Christian that “the world needs the flavor and the purity that only the Christian can bring. And if the Christian himself has lost the thrill and the purity of Christian life, where will the world ever get these things?”

Have salt in yourselves and live at peace with each other. The ancients declared that there was nothing in the world purer than salt because it came from the two purest things – the sun and the sea. The very glistening whiteness of salt was a picture of purity. So this means: “Have within yourselves the purifying influence of the Spirit of Christ. Be purified from selfishness, from bitterness and anger and grudge bearing. Be cleansed from irritation and moodiness and self-centeredness and then and only then, you will be able to live in peace with others.” Jesus is saying that it is only the life that is cleansed of self and filled with Christ that is cleansed of self and filled with Christ that can live in real fellowship with others. (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


Cancer may be the most dreaded disease today. Radical treatment often calls for the surgical removal of an organ or a part of the body in order to stop the spread of this deadly disease and to thus prolong the life of the patient. The patient agrees to the painful and expensive operation because of his desire to continue to live.

Jesus applies this parable to our spiritual life. If someone or something as dear as our eyes, hands or feet causes us to sin, is cancerous, we are told to cut it out, no matter how painful. The cancer may be a sinful relationship or barkada, an attachment to some pleasure or an addiction to drink, drugs or gambling. By radically excising the cancerous cause of sin, we are saving a life which will last forever, the Divine Life of God within us.

Furthermore, if we use radical means to stop the spread of a deadly sickness in our own bodies, we must use even more drastic means to prevent the spread of deadly and contagious diseases to others. We quarantine or isolate anyone suspected of carrying disease such as bird flu. Anyone who would deliberately contaminate others would commit a crime. Jesus warns us with serious threats about spiritually contaminating others or causing them to sin, especially if these others are children or simple people who look up to us. Our bad example or attitude, our indifference to prayer, neglect of taking God and His law seriously- these may lead others astray.

We are called not only to follow Christ and to be saints but also to witness to Him and to bring others to heaven. How sad, how bad, if we do the opposite! (Fr. Jim Risse, SVD Bible Diary 2008).


May 19, 2016 Thursday

In the movie, Salt (2012) Angelina Jolie playing Evelyn Salt, is a double-agent (CIA and Russian spy) who singlehandedly saves the world from nuclear annihilation. Evelyn Salt brings in “fire” into the story.

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus’ descriptions of salt are not easy to understand: Everyone will be salted with re. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other. In the ancient world, plates of salt were often placed at the bottom of the earthen oven to ignite re. Apart from being a preservative and seasoning, it was a catalyst. In fact we believe that rice is cooked better when a grain of salt is placed on top of the rice cooker.

Jesus seems to be exhorting his disciples to make a difference in the world, like salt that can ignite fire.  The Christian is a “fire-starter”.  In the earlier part of Mark 9 where the reading belongs, Jesus presents himself as the best example of a person “salted with re” who must undergo suffering and death and rise again. Then he poses a similar challenge to his disciples: “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Today there are Christians in other parts of the world who are literally losing their lives for the sake of Jesus. We denounce the violence done to them. It is evil. But they are real disciples of Jesus “salted with fire.” We pray that the shedding of their blood ignite a re to make our world a better world. (Fr. Randy Flores | DWST, Tagaytay City Bible Diary 2016)


BRIBE OR GIFT (Mk 9:41): Every Mass is an opportunity for gift-giving. I suppose you and I are here because we all want to give ourselves to God. Let me just ask you a frank question asking for an honest answer: after giving a gift to God, what do you expect from Him? If you expect to be delivered from harm or you expect all good things to come your way, then I want to tell you that you did not offer a gift. You have offered a bribe.

A gift is freely given without expectations. We are here to offer a gift to God without expecting anything from Him as a reward. And this gift becomes even more meritorious and beautiful when in return the cross is given to us. As such, the temptation of bribing the Lord is also greatly diminished.

Let us ask ourselves again: Why are we here? Is it because we expect God does not expect a bribe. The Israelites bribed Yahweh and they got nothing. Christ tells us, “I am here to make your life even more difficult because the cross is my treasure.” (Socrates Villegas, Jesus in my Heart, pp. 199)


Today’s reading from Sirach (5:1-8) tell us: “Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from the day to day.” Spiritual life, eternal life, has a higher priority than temporal life, physical life. In both readings today the emphasis is on the spiritual life. That is why Jesus tells us in many ways that it is better for us to be spiritually healthy than to be cured physically.. there are many basic truths included in today’s gospel, as it talks about the priority of our spiritual life as well as the real possibility of the fire of Gehenna.

It is not that the parts of our physical body cause us to sin; sin comes from the heart. The gospel is telling us in strong language to avoid sin, to cut it out of the heart. We need to be ruthless in dealing with sin, not allowing it to lodge in our hearts because it will bring eternal condemnation upon us.

We know there are many different kinds of sins. The reading from Sirach focuses on the sin of presumption, a very common sin that is rarely confessed. The Catechism, no. 2091, describes presumption as a sin against the First Commandment.

There are two kinds of presumption. The first is presuming upon our own capacity, hoping in our own strength and not in the Lord. The first reading warns us: “Rely not on your wealth; say not ‘I have the power.’ Rely not on your strength.” We must put our trust in the Lord.

The second kind of presumption is presuming on the goodness of God. Sirach says: “Great is His mercy; my many sins He will forgive.” Presumption says: I don’t have to change; God’s mercy is so great. God’s mercy is great and there is nothing we confess that he will not forgive. The key is to confess and admit our own wrongdoing so we can receive his mercy.

Sirach warns and admonishes us not to delay our conversion saying, ‘I will repent later in my life when I am closer to death.’ That is presumption. We may not get the opportunity to repent. Do not put it off from day to day. Begin the path of conversion today and when you see sin – see any trace of presumption – repent of it today. That is the path of wisdom which the readings reveal to us today. (from: The Anawim Way – January 9, 2011 to March 8, 2011 pp. 242-243)


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

THURSDAY OF THE 7TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – MARCOS 9:41-50. SERYOSO BA SI HESUS SA IYANG PAGSUGO SA MGA TINUN-AN SA PAGPUTOL SA ILANG KAMOT UG TIIL, UG SA PAGLUGIT SA ILANG MATA, KON KINI MAOY HINUNGDAN SA PAGPAKASALA? Usahay si Hesus mogamit og paagi sa pag-estorya nga palabihan aron pagtudlo og usa ka bililhong pagtulon-an. Dili niya gusto nga kita mapungkol o mabuta. Buot lamang niya kitang pahimangnoan sa paglikay nga makahimo’g eskandalo o mahimong hinungdan sa laing tawo nga makasala. Ang mga kabataan ug kabatan-onan maoy dali nga maapektohan sa atong mga daotang ehemplo ug sayop nga patulon-an. Busa, angay kitang magbantay sa atong pinulongan ug linihokan sa ilang atubangan. Adunay nag-ingon: “Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” Posted by Abet Uy


PRUNED FOR FRUITFULNESS – People who grow trees or work in vineyards know that pruning is an essential process that assures more fruitfulness and quality of produce. In the process of pruning, unnecessary twigs and useless branches are cut away in order to concentrate and direct the flow of water and nutrients from the soil to the fruit-bearing part of the tree.

In the Gospel, Jesus recommends a similar kind of pruning — a spiritual pruning. Listen to the words of Jesus: “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out” (vv. 43-47).

We, too, have many unnecessary twigs and discordant branches that scatter our human, emotional, psychological and spiritual energies. We need to cut them off, too, that our spiritual resources may be concentrated and properly directed to the fruit-bearing part of our persons and acts.

Recent studies show that the average adult person spends as much as eight to ten hours a day in front of screens — cell phones, TV and other gadgets. So, as part of my Lenten sacrifice, I decided to purposely cut off the time I spend watching television and using the Internet. By Easter time, I noticed that I became more productive. I had more work done. I spent more time with friends. I felt more energized the next morning as I had more time for sleep. Most of all, I felt more connected to God spiritually as I had more time for silence and discernment. Cutting off my discordant twigs and unruly branches properly channeled precious spiritual  resources to where they should be.

As pruning “injures” a tree, spiritual pruning is not without pain and sacrifice. But it will be all worth it. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTION: Identify today the many twigs and branches that rob the fruit-bearing part of your person of precious spiritual resource and energy.

Banish my fear of spiritual pruning, O Lord. Make me fruitful for Your Kingdom. Amen.


May 19, 2016

 Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

James 5: 1-6; Mark 9:41-50

Cut Off, Pluck Out; Stand by the Cross

Cut off: Be Brave to live in Grace:  Be brave. A lukewarm heart does not pass the gate of heaven. Jesus wants His disciples to be brave against sin. Chop off all that is impure in your life. Most of us are acutely aware of our sins, weaknesses and failures. When we hear today’s Gospel passage our reaction could be one of dismissal, passing it off as exaggerated or fundamentalist thinking: “How am I going to cut off my hand or foot? And all because of sin?” Others begin to imagine that we Christians would have to become a group of blind, crippled and disfigured people, since we are all sinners. What Christ is telling us is that we must learn to detach ourselves from sin and avoid the near occasions of sin. We need to make a radical choice in our lives, leaving aside the “old self” and putting on the “new self”. Accepting Jesus would mean rejecting evil in all its forms and conditions.

Apostolate of Good Example: We do not live our lives disconnected from others. Consequently, we must show others the good example of our fidelity to God and his holy will. This is by far our most effective apostolate. Many people can talk the talk, but it takes a real apostle to walk the walk. This is what people are looking for. To paraphrase Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “People don’t hate the Church; they hate what they wrongly think the Church is.” Why do so many people have misconceptions about the Church? Because, sadly, many Catholics don’t know or live their faith!

Salted with Fire:¨Our Lord will purify us of our attachments with fire. This purifying fire comes in the form of the cross. Christ has given us the cross, not out of spite, but because we have desired to become holy. No good thing has ever come without hard work and sacrifice; it is the same with holiness. Christ knows that if we were left to ourselves, we would never seek perfection through suffering. So, He introduces us to it and helps us to embrace it. The cross is the vehicle on which we proceed to heaven. Let us love it and continue on this path that leads to our true home. Hold on to what is good, noble and glorious in the sight of God. Hold on to the cross. You will be sanctified and glorified. Fr. James Thayil CMI


May 19, 2016

REFLECTION: In today’s gospel reading Jesus’ words about cutting off a sinning hand are, of course, not to be taken literally. Why not? Because we first sin in our wills by consenting to something evil, say, snatching somebody’s purse–before we order our hand to execute our decision. Our mind is the culprit, not our hand which is only the obedient instrument of our mind. Cutting off our hand will not make us one whit more honest.

Nevertheless, Jesus’ metaphor is meant to be taken ­seriously. For example, I may find myself working for a company which requires me to act against my conscience. Then I must give up my job–and this can feel as painful as cutting off my hand. Or again, I may be single and fall in love with a married person. My duty, then, is clearly to stay away from that person, even if that feels like cutting off my hand. Many other similar ­situations can arise which force me to choose being faithful to Christ at the price of something very dear to me.

The price for being a Christian is sometimes quite high. But Christ will never let us beat him in generosity. Whatever sacrifices we do for him will one day be compensated a thousand times over.


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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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