2021-09-2626th SUnday in Ordinary TimeRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

I am sure that your doorbell has rung more than once with someone trying to convert you. And if you listen long enough to them quoting Scripture, you find that they are pretty convincing.

Most of the people who ring your doorbell always seem to recite the same Scripture passages - passages that are supposed to make Roman Catholics uncomfortable and defensive.

Usually these passages are: "Call no one on earth your father." (Mt 23:9) followed by the question: Why do you call your priests, "Father"? I wonder how they celebrate Father`s Day? Then, inevitably they will ask you about the passage that refers to the brothers and sisters of Jesus (Mt 12:47-48 Mk. 3:31-32) followed by the question: How can you call Mary the mother of Jesus a Virgin?

Finally, they will ask you if you have been saved or born again. I always laugh about my mom`s response to a person who stated: "I am born again" to which my mom asked, "What was wrong with you the first time?"

Too many people have left the Catholic Church to join small fundamentalistic Churches. What I mean by fundamentalist are people who take everything in the Bible literally. Scripture scholars do not do that. There are many different kinds of writing in the Bible with many different authors although all of the writings are inspired by God.

If you took today`s passage from St. Mark literally, many people would be walking around with parts of their anatomy missing. If your hand is your difficulty - cut it off. If your eye is, pluck it out. Better to live maimed than to enter Gehenna where the worm dies not and the fire is never extinguished.

You have to appreciate the fact that Jesus is using exaggeration to make a point.

Now that Jesus has captured our attention in the reading from Mark`s Gospel, what is the point he is making? I think it is this: our eyes have been given to us so that we can see others who are in need of our help. Our hands and our feet have been given to us so that we can serve our brothers and sisters. Hands are for giving a cold glass of water or a cup of hot coffee.

Hands are for helping and not hurting especially children and those less fortunate. If you do not use your hands and feet and eyes and ears to make this a better world to live in, says Jesus, you might as well not have them.

St. James, which is our second reading, is critical of those who have money. There is nothing wrong with having money but he is critical of how people use their money. He says as does Jesus, if you do not share your wealth with the poor, you will probably go to hell.

I remember seeing a documentary a few years back that made a big impression on me. A government official from a third world country was being interviewed about different agencies that help the poor. He said: I am not Catholic but I am most impressed with Catholic Relief Services. They help people without asking them what their religious affiliation is. It made me proud to be Catholic.

Sometimes, we complain about the number of second collections we have, but it is good to know that we have a Church, all over the world, that is willing and ready to respond to the needs of the poor in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

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