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Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Reflecting on Mark 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

I’ve been thinking lately about the kind of radical surgery I might need in order to be a happier person. It’s possible I might need to finally admit that I am powerless over potato chips. They have caused me to sin too many times. Why don’t I just throw them all in the fires of Gehenna and be done with them?

There are many character flaws I would be much happier without. Instead of just working around them, why don’t I just starve them all until they wither and, mercifully, die? Imagine being free of any of the deadly sins that make us miserable. Imagine just cutting them out of our lives. My offenses, surely I know them, says the psalmist. Well, that’s half the battle right there.

I suspect that if we live long enough we’ll have the chance to review every selfish act, every gossipy conversation, every thoughtless lifestyle. That’s a gift, to live long enough to truly know our sins, and then to see how much everyone around us has been forgiving us all these years, without our even realizing it.

It would be helpful if sin came with a pain, like a bee sting. We’d swat that sin away from ourselves immediately, and apply a healing salve. But sin usually comforts in the beginning, and stings in the end. Lies are uncovered, embezzlements come to light. As we’re seeing in this excruciating moment in the Church, what may have seemed like a lesser evil―keeping sin hidden so as not to give scandal―has become the sin itself.

Maybe there’s no such thing as moderation. Maybe we just need to excise the sins that are killing us anyway.

What character flaw are you willing to jettison in order to be happier?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Ordinary Time - Cycle B

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