From Deuteronomy 30:11-19:
11“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 13“Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’14“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
15“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17“But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Why do I start this morning with this quote from Deuteronomy? Take a look at our readings from today.
From our first reading: Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
From our Psalm: Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
“They will praise you for doing well for yourself,”
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
From our Gospel: Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
I believe that all of our readings our crying out to us, chose the path of life – avoid the path of death. The land promised to us by God is not here on earth but in heaven. Take a minute to think about how our society would define a successful person. Now, take a minute to think about how Christianity would define a successful person. Are they compatible? Which one defines LIFE? Which one defines DEATH? I believe these are what the readings are warning us of today.
Is there anything wrong with wealth? Well that depends on how you let wealth run your life. Do you willing give you wealth to others or do you store it up to make sure your comfort is ensured first? Do you take full credit for your wealth or is itseen by you as a gift from God to be shared with others? Do you give from your “first fruits” or from the “left overs”?
I know in these times, these are not the easiest of questions to answer, but pay heed to the warning given to us…again from the letter of James: Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you…
Our Psalm challenges us to pay heed to what we find valuable in life – what we do here on earth bears greatly on what we will do after earth…This is the way of those whose trust is folly, the end of those contented with their lot: Like sheep they are herded into the nether world; death is their shepherd and the upright rule over them.
And Christ doesn’t offer much more solace in Today’s Gospel…or so it would seem on our first read through it. He talks about cutting off your hand, cutting off your foot, plucking out your eye. Wait, what? All of these bodily parts offer choices for us. Do we use our hands to reach out to those in need or do we use our hands to grab whatever it is that we desire most? Do we use our feet to follow Christ or do they take us on a the path that is wide and easy? Do we use our eyes to see God or only to see what we want – here and now. Do we chose life or do we chose death – that is the point of what I believe Jesus is trying to get across to us this morning. If our hand only grabs what is good for you, if our foot is taking us down the wrong path, if our eyes see only – holy cow, what can our eyes see so freely and easily in this day and age – what is sinful – cut them off. Would we rather be with God in heaven or go to Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
That is a whole lot to contemplate in these short readings from this morning. But in all that, God does offer us hope…Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
What to do today – choose life, not death. As heaven as my witness, I will choose Christ. I will choose Christ…Kathy Troccoli
Do something great for our Lord today.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid.
Jesus, I trust in You.