The good news for the day February 23, 2017
Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time (344)
Jesus says to his followers: “Anybody who gives any of you a cup of water to drink because of membership in the Divine Family—I am telling you the truth! —that person will surely not lose the appropriate return. Whoever, however, affects any one of the less important people who believe in me so that they go astray—it would be better for that person if a giant rock could be hung around their neck and they then could be thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to go astray, you cut it off. It is better for you to live out your life maimed than with two hands to get thrown into the city dump, with its interminable fire. If your foot leads you into sin, cut if off. It is better for you to live the rest of your life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into that city dump. If your eye causes you to go astray, pluck it out. Better for you to become part of the Realm of what is Right with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown in with the trash—where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out. Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes flat, how will you restore its significance? Keep salt in yourselves—you will have peace with one another.” (Mark 9)
In the last few verses, the somewhat “modern” poetry of Jesus outstrips scholars who flounder trying to make sense of the images. Much of the context for His remarks here consider the weak neediness—the “commonness” of His followers—as opposed to those who might “scandalize”—like Pharisees—these “little folks”—you and me. We are not superiors, we are the “help,” the lower class, the ones God uses to bring His gifts—water and forgiveness—to others. You and I are maimed ones, cripples, homeless, refugees, jailed, hospitalized, struggling to make it—and yet sharing what we have. The “biggies”—the rich, scribes and Pharisees—are trash.
In His final images, he reminds you that you are, like Him, a holocaust—changing from earthly existence to spirit, from a passive, animal-like life to a New Existence—as a Child of God. Exodus (2,13) prescribes salt be added to burning sacrifices. Salt is what people need to survive—the preservative, the unique need besides water—that God gives for life. Being Changed—We Live! Fire hurts—we suffer, we transform—but the preserving Hand of God provides the salt you need—it is the flavor of the “other life.”