Last week we spoke about the opposition we encounterwhen declining to march according to a tune at variance with the Gospel. In addition mention was made of the disciples whom Jesus was attempting to teach but who were attempting to adjust and adapt conflicting values while remaining in outward conformity with their allegiance to the Lord.

This attempt, we name clearly as

COMPROMISE. I like to definite compromise as a promise with provisos – I promise with (com) …. with conditions … the small print, the clauses that excuse … the footnotes … it all depends, etc etc!

So, this week, we start with the teaching of Jesus and

OUR footnotes. Take a look at the final section of TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 9: 38 – 43. 45. 47 – 48]. Jesus was not suggesting any form of deliberate bodily injury or masochism. (nowadays there are even some skewed minds and movements which impose self-flagellation!) Rather he is using powerful imagery to illustrate how easily it is for generally good Christian folk to slip into compromises which become habits. So we have the man who persists with an extra- marital affair while in every other aspect of his life is a model husband and father?! How about the woman who runs a small business, insists on absolute honesty from her staff, but knowingly pays miserable salaries and overcharges customers?! (here we easily see the connection with OUR NEW TESTAMENT READING – JAMES 5: 1 – 6) Then, there is the faithful parishioner who is dedicated to raising funds but skims off regular amounts in the disguise of ‘expenses’?! Finally, there is the priest who excuses his lack of prayer and reflection in the name of being too busy with the Lord’s work?! In all these examples, the individual ends-up with the habit of sin which eventually is not even seen or acknowledged as being important or even basically dishonest and decidedly un-Christian. Here I am reminded of other words of Jesus when he said “if your eyes are sound, you will have light for your whole body; if the eyes are bad, your whole body will be in darkness. If then the only light you have is darkness, the darkness is doubly dark.” {Mt. 6: 23} We have to strive for light in every department of our Christian discipleship.

During the past weeks I was leading a young man in a 6-day directed Retreat. In this time I made the observation that we are all cracked in various places. Here the danger lies in the refusal to acknowledge the cracks, accept, encounter them, and then

DISMANTLE them. In today’s Gospel the Lord is referring to our refusal to dismantle specific areas in which we have compromised ourselves, and introduced our own footnotes and excuses.

It is in the dismantling of our cracks that words from

TODAY’S PSALM [19] resonate so splendidly. “The precepts of the Lord are right; they gladden the heart ….. the judgements of the Lord are true ….. in them your servant finds instruction; great reward is in their keeping.”

However, there is another aspect of our Gospel which is clearly linked to

TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [NUMBERS 11: 25 – 29]. This matter is well illustrated by a jealous and overzealous guarding of the exercise of any ministry. In addition, it is easy to experience the doubt raised, without any really good reason, over the authenticity of new ideas, as well as the antagonism and opposition to new approaches. This is one of the cracks which have to be dismantled in and by many people. “Are you jealous on my account” asked Moses? Then, we have to discern the challenge of Jesus words: “he that is not against us is for us.”

As our Psalm tells us –

“from presumption restrain your servant; let it not rule me.”

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