“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.” (Mk 9:42)
When I hear Our Lord’s words from today’s gospel, I get a little uncomfortable. I recall all of the times that I’ve set a bad example for others by getting angry, being lazy, criticizing others unfairly, being impatient, etc. Sometimes we forget that people are always watching us (especially our children) and our sinful behavior can cause them to also commit sins. If you’re like me and have been a poor example at times, there is no need to panic. Tell Jesus you’re sorry and go to confession at your earliest opportunity. Also, be sure to receive the Eucharist as often as possible. It’s through the sacraments that we receive the grace necessary to live good Christian lives. By doing so, we will then be setting a good example for others to follow.
If that’s still not enough to make you feel uncomfortable, read the next few verses of Mark’s gospel. While Jesus is using a technique called “rabbinic hyperbole” and doesn’t really expect us to cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes, He wants to make sure that we understand that we will be accountable for our actions when we die. Hell is very real…let’s make sure we don’t get to experience it for ourselves!