Gospel: Mk 9:41-50
Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear his name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck.
“If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand, than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot, than with both feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out. The fire itself will preserve them.
“Salt is a good thing; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.“
Ben Sirach in our first reading speaks of one of the most dangerous sins the sin of PRESUMPTION. Many fall into this sin. This sin makes the sinner presume that he or she will always have the time to repent in the future. The sinner says “I will have time to be good when I grow old or retire.“
Postponing repentance is dangerous. One presumes that one has control of ones’ own time. That is farthest from the truth! Death may come suddenly! Tomorrow may never come to the sinner! Moreover, postponing repentance to an uncertain future eventually can make the sinner so callous that return to God may become too difficult. At that point one has become like the salt that has lost its saltiness that the Gospel speaks of today.
Presumption is an affront also to the mercy of God. Thus Ben Sirach tells us that one who takes sin lightly is courting the anger of God who hates sin! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet of the 19th century, has a beautiful poem on Divine Retribution
Though the mills of God
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience
He stands waiting,
With exactness grinds He all.
Presumptuous sinners, beware! God can exact an accounting of every sin on judgment day!