If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.It is better for you to enter into life maimedthan with two hands to go into Gehenna,into the unquenchable fire.And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.It is better for you to enter into life crippledthan with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eyethan with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna ~ Mark 9: 43-47
Todays Gospel reading at mass struck a cord with me. It tells us how important it is for us to avoid those things or people that causes us to sin. If our hand causes us to sin then cut it off. That is a very serious direction to be given. We can not take sin lightly.
In the reading Jesus does not say only when severe sin is caused by our hand do we cut it off, but just sin in general. We need to find those things or people that causes sin or in reality tempts us to sin and remove it or them from our lives. This is the best way because when we remove the temptation then we will are least likely to sin. It is the same for someone who is an alcoholic. They would need to remove the alcohol from their homes so not to be tempted. It is in the temptation that we turn from God and focus on our own wants and desires. That temptation can either turn us fully from God or we turn back to God and ask for strength to ignore that temptation.
What tempts you? What pulls you away from the spiritual life with God and has you focus on the physical world? Not everything in the world pulls us away from God. There are things that will push us to see God as well in this world. When God gave us free will, we also gained the choice of listening and acting on those temptations. We need to identify those things that tempt us. They do not need to be big things as you may think that may tempt us. If instead of going to mass you want to sleep in because of a late night, then those late nights are tempting you. I am not saying that we are not to go out and have fun but if that caused you to miss work you would not do it. So why is it when it comes to mass that we do not change it. If when you are on the computer and you view sites that causes sinful thoughts then you need to block those sites. You have to find those things that tempt you and turns you from God and remove them. The hard part is at times is that you may not realize that you are turning away. You will need to do some soul searching and ask God to help you find those temptations.
It is easier to remove those “things” that tempts us then the people that do. Sometimes there are people who help us see God in the world and those who we follow down a path that brings us further from God. We can not blame others for our own actions. It is our choice to do those things that causes us to sin. When it comes to relationships that tempt us we need to fully examine them. Jesus and the disciples were around many people who’s life styles were surrounded by sin, yet they did not. You have to find that balance where you are not tempted by others actions. Some people can not be around those who’s lives are surrounded by sin. That is ok, not everyone has the same resistance to temptation. If you find that you do not have that resistance then you need to keep a distance. Maybe talk to those around you and say you want to live a different life and that those things are keeping you from it. I can not stress this enough, do not get all holier the thou with them. We are all children of God and we are not to judge each other but judge the sin in us. You may have to end some relationships, not because of the person but because you are being tempted. Again, you will need to do some soul searching and ask God if you are to move on from the relationship.
No matter what it is in our lives that tempts us to sin and look away from God, we need to remove it from our lives. We need to separate our life from the life of sin. Find those things that tempt you and replace them with things that bring you closer to God. Invite those things and people into your life that replace the temptations with those things of God. It may not be easy at times but know that God is there and people are praying for you.