What type of story might we equate with the Gospel of Mark? How might we consider his use of hyperbole by which to make his point?
At the time of Mark, the early Christian Church is faced with persecution. When confronted with being Christian, they might become a slave, used for sport in the Coliseum or mutilated. Discipleship could bring them great harm. The reality of harm could be a stumbling block to any Christian. Doubts would evolve quickly. Are we willing to take the chance of inviting great harm or would it be better to not embrace the faith? To reject the faith caused scandal in the early Christian Church. Mark is desiring to speak to this scandal.
The words of Jesus thus are expressing – for the faith, would you not cut off your hand? For the faith, would you not pluck out your eye? Using hyperbole, Jesus is using an extreme example to make the point that discipleship requires a person to profess their faith, even if faced with doubts. Those who are willing to endure such hardship are the true heroes of faith. They do not allow rejecting faith in Christ to become a scandal. They accept the hardship for the sake of the kingdom.
In our time, the question becomes – what causes doubts about the faith today? What are the stumbling blocks that might cause someone to turn away from or lose their faith? In the midst of our doubts, how might we be strengthened in faith? Coming to Mass each week is an opportunity to be strengthened in our belief, face our doubts and recommit ourselves in faith. If our faith is strong, would we not be willing to “cut off our hand” in order to be part of the kingdom? The threat of extreme harm should awaken in us the need to confront our moments of doubt, anxiousness or fear of persecution as disciples in Christ. How ready are we to profess our faith as the early Christians did who faced death for their belief?
Sharing news about the parish . . .
A wish of God’s peace is extended to the families and friends of Marian Thomasgard and Roy Duranceau who were recently buried from St. Anne Parish. May our prayers support and encourage those who mourn. May they rest in peace!
A new project starting at St. Anne Parish is the collection of plastic bags which can be crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless. 500-700 bags are needed to crochet one mat. A container to collect bags will be placed at St. Anne Parish. If you are willing to donate to this project, please bring your bags and deposit them in the container. This project will be offered until October 31, 2015. Depending on the donations, a decision will be made regarding continuing the project or concluding it. For those who might be interested in crocheting the mats, please contact Catholic Charities (715-849-3311) to work out the details.
Diocesan Annual Appeal – Our new target for 2015-2016 is $106,152. The Appeal will kick-off in October. Please be ready to offer assistance as we work to meet this new target!
May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!