The Collect for the Twenty Sixth Sunday Year B reads as follows:
O God, who manifest your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow,
we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs
to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
In making this prayer tangible, the following reflection questions emerged:
1. How does God manifest His almighty power to You this last week?
2. What mercy and graces has God given me in my life?
3. What is my attitude to the sacrament of Reconciliation?
4. How do I show God my gratitude for the grace and mercy God provides me?
5. What are the treasures of heaven that I need to aspire to attain this week?
The Gospel is from St Mark 9:38-43,45,57-48. There are three very practical lessons we must learn from today's Gospel: the grave obligation we have of not causing scandal to our fellow-Christians or indeed to any person and secondly, the willingness we should have to sacrifice any earthly possession which is a cause of sin to us.
Scandal, the sin of being a cause or an occasion of another's sin, is doubly sinful involving one's own sin and the sin of the person scandalized. Scandal can be caused by word—that is, by teaching or propagating wrong doctrine or by giving sinful advice, and it can be caused by one's own sinful deeds which may be imitated by others. Those in positions of authority such as parents whose duty it is to bring up their children in the Christian faith, are especially liable to give scandal if they fail to live truly Christian lives. Christian parents who fail to live according to their faith will be held accountable not only for their own sins, but for the sins of their children and perhaps their children's children for generations to come.
The second lesson for all of us in today's Gospel is that we should ever realize that eternal life is worth any sacrifice which we may be called on to make. The road we have to travel in life is not an easy one. As our Lord says in another place: "Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Mt. 7: 13). We wish to reach heaven, therefore we must be prepared to follow Christ; we must not allow others to lead us astray but be prepared and determined to conquer and resist our own evil inclinations also.
The third lesson relates to working together as fellow Christians. When we see or hear about another person in need – the cup of cold water, we need to assist them if we are able precisely because he/she is a fellow Christian- a fellow follower of Christ. Being united with other Christians helps to build community. Letting go of competition and ego for the greater good of a parish, or parish group is vital. How many times have great ideas or great leadership been squashed by other people who have put their ego and competitive streak override something worthwhile?
We as Catholics must endeavour to live by the standards that Christ set us not the standards of the world. When we fail, which we will do as we are human, God has provided us with the sacrament of mercy and reconciliation to be restored and to move forward. Let us take full advantage of this sacrament and use it regularly so that we will become more finely tuned to what God wants of us.