These are the words spoken in Sunday’s Gospel. Sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it?
We often think of the words spoken in this Gospel as hypothetical examples of the extreme. Jesus didn’t really mean cut off your hand for taking something that doesn’t belong to you; He didn’t really mean pluck your eye out for looking greedily or lustfully at another. That sounds more like Sharia law. Surely He couldn’t have meant that!
Jesus certainly did not want to impose Sharia law upon Christians. He wasn’t like that. Sharia law is designed to punish. Sharia law is meant to cause pain. Sharia law is imposed on one person by another. Sharia law is man’s weak attempt to impose justice on an unjust world. Sharia law is intended to provide revenge for those who feel, correctly or incorrectly, wronged.
Jesus was not about providing justice in an unjust world. He knew there can be no such thing as true Justice here. He was even less about providing revenge for wrongdoings. In fact, Jesus spoke of forgiveness, a concept as foreign to the world 2000 years ago as it is too often today.
When Jesus said cut off your hand, pluck out your eye, He said something entirely different. He was telling us to do this to ourselves. He was not telling us to cast judgement and disfigure another.
Still, the direction is difficult to comprehend. Jesus speaks of love and yet, He tells us to disfigure ourselves so grotesquely. Why is that? How can that be Love?
He tells us these things because it is in His perfect Love for us that he sees that which we cannot. It is in His perfect Love for us that He sees the temptation to sin and our weakness in avoiding that sin, but He also sees the everlasting rewards for doing so. He tells us to take any and all drastic measures necessary to avoid what leads us into temptation.
Imagine what would the world look like if we avoided sin at all costs. Do we even recognize sin within ourselves? Are we willing to take drastic measures to eliminate what leads us to sin?
It’s easy for the divorced, for those who have been cheated on, betrayed, abandoned, criticized harshly, bashed unfairly, and left to singlehandedly uphold marital vows, to point fingers:
“YOU looked at pornography!
YOU fell to temptation.
YOU should pluck out your eye.
YOU touched that other woman!
YOU should cut off your hand!”
But what about the blame that lies within us? Is it possible to look at ourselves and judge ourselves or do we have the right to judge only another person?
Remember, the Bible tells us if something leads you to sin you should cut off your own hand you should pluck out your own eye.
The Bible does not tell us if pornography or an adulterous 3rd party leads your spouse to sin you should pluck out his eye for him although the temptation is certainly understandable!
Instead, the Bible only tells us to pluck out our own eye if it causes us to sin.
We must look at ourselves and see and admit to the sins we commit. Is it possible that our eyes lead us to sin in some way? Did we ever look at a half-dressed man on the newsstand magazine online at the grocery store and wish we were going home with him rather than to the reality awaiting us? Did we ever cheat with our hearts by looking enviously at other families and wanting what they had rather than what we chose? Did we ever connect emotionally, our hearts drawn to another at work, in a club, or through a volunteer activity, when they should have been connecting more at our own homes, at our own families, at our own spouses, at our own selves?
And what about after the marriage started having trouble or even after the marriage dissolved? Is it possible that we look at our spouses or their partners with such anger, hatred, and bitterness, jealousy, fear, and gut wrenching agony that it overrides our ability to Love? Is that not sin? Is choosing something other than Love not the same sin your spouse ultimately chose when he or she abandoned the marital vows?
Is choosing not to Love the worst sin possible?
The Bible tells us if something leads you to sin, remove it from your life. Is it possible that the sin of pornography of lust and and greed has hit your husband, but the sin of anger, bitterness, and hatred has hit you?
We cannot control sinful spouse.
We cannot control adulterous other women.
We can control ourselves!
We can control the way we see others…when we turn them over to God!
If you are filled with anger and hatred and bitterness when you look at your spouse or when you look at the adulterer, you must pluck the vision from your sight. You must pluck the anger, bitterness, and hatred from your eye. You must choose to see your spouse and the adulterer as children of God. You must choose to see them as the Lord sees them. You must find the will to look at them and find the Love for your enemy that overcomes anger and hatred and bitterness, the Love that sees beyond the hurt to the goodness, despite what they’ve done to you personally, that the Lord puts in each one of us as created in His image and likeness.
It’s easy to point fingers. It’s easy to say he should have plucked out his eye rather than cheat. It is also right to say that. Your ex has sinned terribly, but to Jesus all sin is wrong, and, because He Loves you perfectly, unconditionally, and eternally, He would rather you pluck out your eye than to live every day with such negativity.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is telling you to pluck the anger, the hatred, and the bitterness from your eyes and instead open your heart. He is telling you to search and search until you truly see the goodness inside of even those who hurt you. He is telling you it is better to live without seeing than to choose to see only sin. He is telling you that you must choose to see Love even with its imperfections. He is telling you He has seen your sin, your imperfections, your inability to choose Love in painful moments, and that He chooses to see the Good in you anyway.
He is demanding you to do the same.
Will you choose to see Love or will you choose to lose your sight?
I am stopping now and praying you choose to see Love.
I Hope you join me. 🙂
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