26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
If goodness is not exclusive to Christians nor holiness is inclusive to Christianity then heaven is for everyone who loves the way God loves. We do not have to be triumphalistic in our sanctity because saints are not the exclusive properties of the Catholic Church. Although we believe that ours is the true Church but we also acknowledge “seed of the Word”, that is the presence of God in other religions hence our respect to their own ways of life. “Nor is God Himself far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and every other gift” (Lumen Gentium #16 of Vatican II).
A little act of kindness done to the least of our fellowmen will be forever written in the heart of God and will not go unrewarded. On the other hand, any act of injustice done against the poorest of the poor will not go unpunished by God. Now we realize that God has a face: it is the face of the person next to us regardless of colour, race or religion. “For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged” (Gaudium et Spes #16 of Vatican II).
The second part of the gospel this Sunday sounds explosive: “If your hand, foot or eye is causing you to sin cut it off or pluck it out!” Certainly Jesus was not teaching His disciples about self-mutilation hence should not be taken literally. This height of radicalism reminds us of our true goal in life which is heaven. There is nothing that should stand in the way in realizing that goal, no matter how precious it is, be it as precious as our hand, foot or eye. A person who has a gangrenous foot will have to sacrifice that foot in order to save his whole body. Failure in cutting it off will result in obstructed blood circulation and bacterial infection which eventually lead to death.
It is the same in our spiritual life when we have something gangrenous that obstructs us from living our Christian life to the fullest: be it a relationship, a place, a possession. It might be someone or something that is very precious that is causing us to sin. A starfish who is ready to let go of an arm by breaking it off just to be free from a predator because it knows that it can later grow an entirely new arm. From this autonomy comes regeneration. Just like the starfish, our life is compensated if we are able to break off from the grip of our predators through painful sacrifice. God knows how to reward where the reward is due. Resurrection is our own way of total regeneration.
Christianity is a radical religion! There is no room for the mediocre most especially if one takes seriously his goal in life. We will do everything and even go through the distance to reach that goal. At the end of our life’s journey, we will realize that the many things we have given up are nothing compared to the reward that awaits for us. If all the things we have given up become gold in heaven, perhaps we may even say “How I wish I could have given up more….”