Friday, November 16, 2018

33rd Sunday Year A (Gospel: Mark 13:24-32) Judgement, heaven and hell



At this time of the year before Advent begins, the readings always focus on the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. We do this because it was one of the things that Jesus taught. Jesus taught that he would come again and that when he does come it will be for a time of judgement. All people will be judged. Each week we say in the Creed, ‘He will come again to judge the living and the dead’.

It can be tempting to discard what we don’t understand, especially if it sounds a little silly. The idea of Jesus appearing in glory and coming on the clouds to judge the world may seem hard to swallow. However, it would be a great mistake on our part if we began to just take the parts of Jesus’ teaching that ‘make sense’ and leave the other ones. Perhaps a better approach is to say we accept all his teachings, but we don’t understand many of them. ‘I don’t understand, but I believe.’ That’s what faith is.

If the Lord is to come to judge the living and the dead, it implies two things:  First, that there must be a heaven and a hell. Otherwise there would be no point in judging us if it were going to make no difference. Heaven is the total happiness that being in the presence of God will bring. This is something that we cannot understand, because we have no experience of it yet, but this will be the most complete happiness we could ever know and this is what God has planned for us; that is what He wants for us and God will make that happen unless we consciously and deliberately reject God.

Then there is the total loss of God for those who reject him, and this is hell; the loss of everything that can bring happiness. Jesus has taught us that this is real, otherwise it would make no sense that we have free will, the power to accept or reject God. If heaven is being in the wondrous presence of God, which means total fulfillment, light, happiness, joy, the company of those we love and peace, then to lose that would mean to be left with darkness, hatred, pain, isolation and the pain of knowing we have lost the possibility of happiness.
When Our Lady appeared to the three children at Fatima in 1917, one of the things she said was, ‘If people only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.’ She also said, ‘God condemns no one to hell, people condemn themselves to hell.’ Why would we condemn ourselves to hell, you might ask? We would do it by the way we live, the choices we continually make.

The Lord’s coming also implies that we will have to make an account of our lives to God. We will be held accountable for our actions. I often think that when we hear about so many of these tribunals and hearings, which cost millions and show the wholesale corruption that goes on, it can be very frustrating, because the people who get away with the most never seem to have to pay, either because they are powerful enough, or because of the legal system. They always seem to get off the hook. It is wrong and it happens every day. But if a young person steals something from the local supermarket, you can be sure he or she will be brought to court and they’ll pay for it with a fine, or with jail time. Yet even the rich and powerful must remember that their power and wealth won’t be with them when they die. They too will have to give an account of themselves to God and nothing is hidden from God. I find this consoling, not because I wish evil on anyone, but because at least I know that in the end there will be justice.

Is this a reason for us to be afraid? Of course not, unless we are deliberately trying to fool God. If we try to live as the Lord teaches us and make even the smallest effort, then we have nothing to fear. If we just get on with the day to day tasks that we are presented with and try to be honest before God, then we have nothing to worry about, because this is what Jesus teaches us. The fact is that we are all sinners, we all fall short of the mark and none of us ever get it exactly right, but God isn’t put off by this. God sees the heart. God knows when we are doing our best and trying to live as best we can.  He knows all the pressures that we are under. He knows how difficult it is to try and survive in the world. The Lord looks at each of our hearts and judges us by what is in our heart. So, there is no reason for us to be afraid if we make even the smallest effort. 


It is also important to remember that God is infinitely merciful and mercy is something which is not deserved. God’s justice and mercy go together. Think of all the times that we see people in the paper convicted of some terrible crime, and we say, ‘I hope he gets life,’ or ‘I hope they kill him…’  It’s just as well for our sake that God is more merciful with us, than we are with each other, or none of us would stand a chance. 

Another reason why we can never judge someone else is because we don’t know what’s in their heart. We don’t know what has influenced another person’s actions, or what pressures they are under. That’s why Jesus teaches us, ‘Do not judge and you will not be judged’. Only God can judge, and only God will judge perfectly justly. We can judge the outward actions of a person, but we cannot judge the heart.

God is merciful and if we try to do what is right we have nothing to be afraid of.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.






Thursday, November 8, 2018

32nd Sunday, Year B (Gospel: Mark 12:38-44) The Lord provides



Lake Dall, India.
I heard a story about an old Dominican by the name of Maurice Fearan. He was giving a retreat in Kashmir (India) in a place called Shrinagar, beside the Dall lake. It is 7000 feet above sea level and a big tourist attraction; very beautiful. So many people came to the retreat that they had to give him accommodation apart from where the retreat was being held; so they put him on one of the tourist boats. Each evening after the retreat he would go back to the tourist boat, have a light meal and sleep. 

One evening when he was eating, a young lady from Argentina joined him. While they were chatting, a storm began to blow up on the lake and it was coming towards them. Eventually there were flashes of lightening near them and they were both getting nervous, especially since they were on water. Then she leaned towards him and said, ‘Father, I’d like to go to confession, but before I go to confession I want to tell you something.’ And then she said, ‘Father I don’t believe in hell.’ Maurice said, ‘OK, but why don’t you?’ She said, ‘I am an only child and my father loves me completely and I know that no matter what I do, my father would never reject me. Sometimes he may do things which embarrass me, but I could never do anything which would embarrass him. No matter what I do he would never reject me. And so I don’t believe God would ever reject me either.’ Isn’t that powerful? And I think that is the approach we should take too.  I’m not suggesting that hell isn’t real, but I think that is a good way to see God.
 

I think we often pray ‘too small,’ so to say. We are afraid that we can’t have the very best, or that God might frown on us if we expect too much. And yet Jesus taught the very opposite. ‘How many of you would give your child a snake if he asked for a fish; or a stone if he asked for bread?’ And then he said, ‘If you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father look after you?’ It is a wonderful teaching and probably one that we could reflect on more. The Father wants to give us everything. He wants the very best for us always.

In the first reading, God is showing us never to be afraid, because if we trust in his word He will never let us down. The woman had almost nothing left and the prophet Elijah asked her to share it. She was afraid, but Elijah said, ‘Trust in the word of God and you will be alright.’  So she did and she was alright.

God invites us to do the same. We are so often afraid that we won’t be able to manage and yet the Lord keeps telling us, ‘Trust in me and I will look after your every need.’ And He does.

Something that the Lord has taught me as a priest, is never to be afraid to give away money to people who need it. I don’t just mean people who come to the door asking for money, but people I come across who I know are in need of help. They are the ones who rarely ask, but the Lord often lets me see their need. People often give me money as a priest and I see it as part of my work to pass it on, whenever the Lord shows me such need. But I have always found that every time I have given away money, sometimes reluctantly as I feel maybe it’s too much or that I might be stuck, within 24 hours I will be given the money back by someone else and usually more. This has happened to me so many times that I always believe it is God’s way of teaching me to trust him. He looks after all our needs and He will never be outdone in generosity. 

 

In the Gospel today Jesus sees the poor woman putting in what seemed to be a very small amount. But he knew it was everything she had. God sees what we do and He constantly encourages us to be generous, especially with those who are in need. Remember, God will never be outdone in generosity. If we are generous, God will be far more generous. We forget that Our Father in heaven is the Lord of all the universe. God has lots of money. Any father will give his children whatever they need and with great generosity if he can. Our Father in heaven is never outdone in generosity, so let us never be afraid.

For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’”

Friday, November 2, 2018

31st Sunday Year B (Gospel: Mark 12:28b-34) Love God and do what you like




Most of us were brought up with the understanding that we must love our neighbour.  That is very much part of what it means to be Christian. We respect the people around us, even if we don’t like them. We respect them because we believe that we are all children of God, created by the one God, no matter what our race, colour or religion.

We also know that sometimes it can be very difficult to love the people around us. It is much easier to give to charities, supporting people in other countries, than to show respect to the people living next door, or even in the same house, or work place.

However, there is something else that comes first. That is, the love of God. It is no accident that Jesus put this first, or that it comes first in the commandments. Love God above all else, with all your heart and soul, with all your strength and then love your neighbour as yourself.

Why is this so important? because it is very difficult to love the people around us, especially the ones we find difficult, unless we love God first. It is our love of God, as our faith begins to grow, that gives us the strength to love others. The more we are filled with the love of God, the more sensitive we become to the world around us. It is then we begin to notice people in trouble and people in need. God’s Spirit within us that shows us these things and helps us to see others as people with needs, rather than just Christians, or Muslims, Mexicans or Irish. First they are people; human beings with the same needs and desires as anyone else. It is the love of God within us that shows us this and that gives us the desire to help them.


How do I love God? By keeping his commandments. If you love anyone you show your love by trying to please them and by trying to do what they ask. It is the exact same with God. There is no point in saying that I love God if I’m not prepared to keep his commandments. There is no point in sleeping with your boy friend or girl friend, and then saying that I love God. God asks us not to do this. Who am I kidding? We cannot justify stealing, or not paying taxes and then praying to God to help us. If we hope for God’s blessing and help, or to grow in our spirit, we must try to live his commandments. They are commandments, not suggestions and this means sacrifices. It means that we will be different from others who don’t believe in God. And this is how it has been throughout the centuries. Christians have always been different. If I want to call myself a Christian I have to try to live as a Christian. Otherwise it means nothing.

All of us will all have to give an account of ourselves to God when we die. And we will be on your own then. We won’t have friends or politicians standing behind us to cheer us on. We will not have any earthly status either. It will just be each of us before God. Does that mean we need to be afraid? Not if we try. If we sin, or fall, or do what is wrong, we should never be afraid to ask forgiveness. God promises forgiveness, if we turn to him and repent. But I’m talking about persisting in some way of life that is contrary to the laws of God. We must be careful that we’re not rewriting the commandments for ourselves. God doesn’t ask for 100% success, only effort. 




St. Augustine has a lovely saying which sums it up. He says, ‘Love God and do what you like.’ If we really love God, we will try and do what He asks. While trying to live as God asks can seem like a burden initially, the reality is the opposite. Living by the teachings of Christ brings a great freedom and happiness, because your spirit knows that you’re on the right track and that takes away fear. Once we begin to come closer to God this way, then we begin to be filled with a love for him that gives us the strength to look out for the people around us.

I know many people I would term ‘people of faith’, who really try to live what they believe, and they are always keen to help people around them who are in need. It comes quite naturally to them, because of their love of God and I’m sure there are many of you here too. If we focus on growing closer to God, looking after our neighbour comes quite naturally. The same goes for a lot of the moral teachings of the Church, which people love to argue about so much. If we start arguing about these problems before we have faith, they will just remain an obstacle between us and God. But if we grow in faith first, these things naturally fall into place.

Hear O Israel,
The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
You shall love your neighbour as yourself.



Saturday, October 20, 2018

29th Sunday Year B (Gospel: Mark 10:35-45) Bringing good out of evil


The only known photograph of Maria Goretti
Today I would like to tell you the story of a remarkable young girl called Maria Goretti, who died in 1902 three months before her 12th birthday. Maria was born into a farming family, near Ancona in the east of Italy. She was one of seven children. They were poor farmers and eventually had to sell their own farm and work for others. They ended up working on another farm in Paliano, about fifty miles south of Rome. Her father contracted malaria and died when she was just nine. They ended up sharing a house with a father and son by the name of Giovanni and Alessandro Serenelli. Their life was hard, but they were a close family. Maria generally stayed in the house doing housework and minding the youngest children, while the others worked on the farm.

Alessandro Serenelli, was eight years older than Maria and several times had tried to take advantage of her, but each time she refused. One day when he knew she was in the house on her own, he cornered her and threatened to kill her if she didn’t give in to him. She refused and kept saying that it was a mortal sin and God would not want it and that he would go to hell. Eventually in a rage, he stabbed her fourteen times, leaving her for dead. When her family found her, she was rushed to hospital, but she died the next day from her wounds. However, before she died she said that she forgave Alessandro because she wanted him to be with her in heaven when he died.

Alessandro was arrested and sentenced to thirty years in prison. Initially he was completely unrepentant. In fact, as is often the case with sexual predators, he blamed Maria, saying that if she had just given in to him, none of this would have happened. It claimed that it was basically her fault. However, six years later Maria appeared to him in a dream. She was holding lilies and she allowed fourteen of them to fall into his hands, but as each one landed in his hands it turned to ashes. This experience brought about a profound conversion in Alessandro. He understood the fourteen flowers to mean the fourteen times he had stabbed her and that she had forgiven him. From this moment on, his life changed completely. He became totally repentant and a model prisoner, so much so that he was eventually released three years early because of his exceptional behavior.


 When he was released, after serving twenty-seven years in prison, he went straight to Maria’s mother’s house and begged her to forgive him for what he had done. She said to him that if Maria was able to forgive him, she could too. The two of them attended mass together the next day and received Holy Communion side by side. Alessandro spent the rest of his life in a Franciscan monastery, helping out as a receptionist and in the garden.

Maria Goretti was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII in St. Peter’s Basilica. Both Maria’s mother Assunta and Alessandro, as well as some of her siblings, were there for her canonization. Her canonization was the first one to be held out-doors in St. Peter’s square, because of the size of the crowd. It is estimated that about 500,000 people attended the ceremony. Alessandro died peacefully in 1970 at the age of 87. All this because of the bravery of an eleven-year-old girl, who was willing to suffer rather than offend God.
 


What has this got to do with us today? At the moment as we hear about so much evil, and sexual abuse, I think it is good to be reminded of the extraordinary good that God can bring out of the most evil of situations. Who would have thought that an 11 year old girl could inspire so many people and bring about the conversion of a murderer and rapist?

St. Maria Goretti, virgin and martyr, pray for us.



Friday, October 12, 2018

28th Sunday Year B (Gospel: Mark 10:17-30) For God, everything is possible.


 

There is a priest by the name of Benedict Groeschel from New York, he died in 2014. He founded the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a reformed branch of the Franciscans. Fr. Groeschel is an excellent speaker and in one of his talks he was saying that there is a man he knows in New York who is a multi millionaire, with more money than he could ever spend, or knows what to do with.  Benedict goes on to say that he was talking to this man at a particular conference and he—let us call him John Goldman—was saying to Benedict that he would like to put his money to good use, but he didn’t know what to do with it.  He admitted straight out that he had more money than he could ever spend.  Benedict said that if he wanted he could give a donation to one of the orphanages that they run in the Bronx, as it would make a big difference to them.  In spite of the fact that it was John Goldman himself who brought up the subject and admitted that he didn’t know what to do with all his money and wanted to put it to good use, by the end of the conference he still hadn’t agreed to part with one cent of his money. Benedict was saying that it was as if he was possessed by his wealth. He had no freedom. His wealth controlled him.

Most of us don’t have that kind of problem. In fact, most people have the opposite problem, but it is still very easy to become consumed even with the desire for money, or riches, or indeed anything. The problem is not the riches themselves, but our attachment to them.

In the Gospel which we have just heard, see how Jesus responds to the rich young man who is keen to live the right way.  When he asks what he should be doing to get to heaven, Jesus doesn’t say ‘You should sell all your possessions’.  First he just says, ‘You know the commandments; live them.’ It is only when he is pushed that Jesus then says ‘Go and sell all you own...’  What is he doing? Jesus is showing the young man that he is not as free as he thinks he is. In spite of the fact that he could probably buy anything he desires and do anything he wants because of his wealth, he is in fact a slave to his riches. Jesus is not just trying to make the young man feel bad, or guilty, rather, since he did ask, Jesus is pointing out where the problem is for him. The problem is not in having riches, but that we get so attached to them that we are no longer free. No doubt the young man felt he was living a good life, and he probably was, but the Lord wanted him to see that he was not half as free as he thought. You don’t have to be very wealthy for that to happen. 

St. John of the Cross says that if you become too attached to your rosary beads, get rid of them. He also says there is no point in taking a vow of poverty if you are still consumed with the desire for the things that you have given up. The freedom from them is what is really important.


There is a story of two monks out walking on a journey. They come across a creek and they meet a young lady who is trying to get across, but she is afraid. So one of the monks offers to carry her across. She accepts and he carries her across the creek and then they part ways. After some time the other monk says, ‘You shouldn’t have carried that lady across the creek. You are a monk!’ The first monk says, ‘When I carried her across, I left her down and walked away, but you are still carrying her in your mind.’ We can become obsessed with anything.

Thank God for what we do have, but ask yourself are you free from it, or a slave to it? Because if you are a slave to it—thinking that you could not do without it—then it is the master. Think of your cell-phone. Most of us would find it pretty hard to do without it.

Why did Jesus point this out to the young man? Because he wanted him, just as he wants us, to be free to open ourselves up to God. God is the only thing that is really important. Everything else is going to be left behind when we die, even our bodies. That is why Jesus is telling us not to get caught up in what is ultimately trivial. Enjoy what you have of course, but don’t let it become the master.

 

Most of us are probably much more attached to the things we have than we would like to be. I know I am. But perhaps the most important part of this Gospel is the last part. First of all Jesus says ‘How hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God’ and the apostles are astonished, just as most of us probably find this hard to understand too, since the  general thinking is that if we had enough money it would resolve most of our problems. But when the Apostles ask, ‘Then who can be saved?’, or in modern English ‘Who can get to heaven?’ then Jesus says ‘for people [by their own strength] it is impossible, but not for God.  Everything is possible for God.’ That is the really important thing to remember. Everything is possible for God. By our own strength we are very limited in what we can do, in spite of our best efforts, because we are weak and we easily get distracted by wealth, or work, or relationships or whatever. God knows well that we get caught up in all the wrong things, just like the rich young man in the story, but God is bigger than all of this. God is bigger than the mistakes we make, bigger than our mixed motivations for what we do. That is why we just keep coming back to him and asking him to help us, to forgive us, to guide us: and he does.
The disciples said: ‘If that is the case, then who can be saved?’
Jesus said: ‘For people it is impossible, but not for God;
because everything is possible for God.’


Thursday, October 4, 2018

27th Sunday of Year B (Mk 10:2-16) When life's plans don’t work out


Recently in our diocese we lost three priests. They all left for different reasons, which is sad. Each time that happens it makes all of us priests question our vocations and it brings up questions as to whether we will be able to persevere. Marriages often don’t work out and I’m sure when you know a couple who have just split up, it probably brings up fears and questions about your own marriage too. But just because Religious life, or married life, doesn’t always work out as we had hoped, it doesn’t mean we give up on them. We still do our best to hold onto the values that are important and to teach our children the same thing. Over 80% of people still believe in the value of marriage, which is good to know and thousands of young people are continually inspired to dedicate their lives to God in Religious life. Two of my family are divorced and I’ve already done my best friend’s wedding twice. I also know of many priests who have left the priesthood.

It is interesting that they had the same issues 3,500 years ago in the time of Moses. When Jesus is questioned about this, he makes the point that this was not God’s intention, but that doesn’t mean we give up when things don’t work out. The Lord never gives up on us, no matter how badly things turn out.

You know the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. He meets her in the middle of the day, on her own, which means that she was being shunned by other women. It would be normal for her to be with other women early in the morning, when it is cool. Jesus tells her he knows that she has been married five times and is now with someone else. But instead of being judgmental of her, he reaches out to her, gives her hope and courage. That is always what the Lord does. Jesus is always the one to give us courage. Satan, who hates and wants to destroy God’s creation, always discourages. He is the one who tells us we are useless, we are hypocrites and there is no point in going on. Jesus called him ‘the Accuser’. He constantly accuses us and points out our faults. If you are surprised to hear me talk about Satan, look at the Scriptures. Jesus frequently mentioned him. His existence is real and he works to destroy us and make us despair. Jesus is always the one to encourage us and who tells us not to be afraid.

366 times in the Bible are the words, ‘Do not be afraid.’ God is always encouraging us and is with us no matter what happens. In fact, He is always the one to reach out to us and assure us that He is still with us just as much as before.

 

When Jesus was asked directly about this, He said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her.’ It is not what God intended, but even when it happens, the Lord works with us, to help us move on. That is also what an annulment is about. It is the Church’s way of allowing a person to move on, by dissolving the previous sacramental marriage. An annulment doesn’t say that a marriage never existed. What it says is that all the elements for the sacrament of marriage were not there and therefore that marriage can be dissolved. You could say it is the merciful side of the Lord’s teaching, to allow people to begin again.

I am often asked if it is wrong to receive Holy Communion if someone is divorced. Being divorced is not a problem with regards to receiving Communion. The problem is when someone is then in a second relationship. If someone is in a second relationship without having the first one dissolved, or annulled, then technically they are committing adultery. That’s why we try to help people to get an annulment, so that they can move on.

One of the reasons Pope Francis often unnerves people, is because he reaches out to people who are in the ‘grey’ area, which is exactly what Jesus did. He hasn’t changed any Church teaching, but he is reminding us that things are rarely black and white and reaching out to people is what we are meant to be about, because that is what Jesus did.

I often think of one of the times when Jesus was so critical of the Pharisees (the religious leaders of the time) and he said, ‘Oh you Pharisees; you place great burdens on people’s shoulders, but you don’t lift a finger to move them’ (Mat 23:4). In other words, it is easy to just state  God’s law, but we must also help people when things have gone wrong.

The Lord is always the one to encourage us and He never abandons us, no matter what happens.



Thursday, September 27, 2018

26th Sunday Yr B (Gospel: Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48) Sin cuts us off from God who is our happiness





They say that in the Church of the 1950s nearly everything was a mortal sin and everything else was forbidden! That didn’t leave much room for living. Thankfully we have moved on a lot since then and have a better understanding of human nature and also of human weakness and just how complicated we are as people. So many things influence us and how we think, from the moment we are born.

In the Church we always seem to be talking about sin and what is sinful. Why is that? In the readings today there are some dramatic words spoken about sin and its consequences. I think that the simplest way to explain it is this: We are only going to find happiness in one place, and that is in God. God has created us this way. The problem is that not only are we not convinced of this, but in fact we are often convinced of the complete opposite. I’ll bet that many of us here would probably admit (me included) that if I could really do anything I wanted, have all the wealth I want, the cars, houses, relationships, etc, that I would be truly happy and yet that is the opposite of what Jesus taught. Some of you may be familiar with a program on TV called ‘Cribs’. It is about many of the very wealthy celebrities and what they own. It gives you a tour of their homes, which are pretty amazing to say the least. It is presented in such a way that it gives you the impression that this is what happiness consists of. Yet sadly many of the lives of these same celebrities are often wrecked with addiction and heartache, as you know. Many of them live very tragic lives. Jesus tells us ‘How hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God,’ not because there is anything wrong with wealth, but it tends to distract us from what is important.

 


Sin and what is sinful, is the one thing that can lead us away from God, which is the only place we will find happiness. Much of what we now consider to be a normal part of modern living, is in fact completely sinful according to the teachings of Christ. A lot of what we watch on TV as entertainment is teaching us values that are completely opposed to what God has taught us. Lying, cheating and adultery are portrayed as normal. A young man asked me once if lying was a sin. It is one of the commandments: you shall not bear false witness. Killing is shown as wrong but often necessary. Abortion is portrayed as a difficult choice, but necessary. And yet the Lord tells us that all of these things are wrong and against his commands. ‘You must not kill, you must not bear false witness, you must not commit adultery’, because these things destroy us as human beings. Instead of helping us to become the best version of ourselves that we can be, they degrade us and they lead us away from God. That is why Jesus spoke so strongly about sin.

During the week I read an article about a young man by the name of Alec Smith. He died earlier this year at the age of 26, because he couldn’t afford insulin. He made $35,000 a year as a restaurant manager, but he couldn’t afford $450 a month health insurance, with an out of pocket deductible of $7,600. When he turned 26 he was no longer able to be on his mother’s health insurance. He needed $1300 a month to pay for insulin for his diabetes. So, he began to ration his insulin but he was found dead in his apartment a month later, three days before his pay day. A vial of insulin cost $24.56 in 2011 after insurance and now it has increased up to $80. That is corruption because of greed for money. 



Wealth in itself is not wrong, but when it becomes the primary focus, then it is a problem. Our health system is primarily about making money, rather than helping the sick, and that is immoral. That is what the second reading is about. When money is abused at the expense of people, it then becomes destructive. We will take none of it with us when we die and the only thing that will matter then is how we loved and served the people around us.

In the Gospel today Jesus uses a particular way of speaking to make the point of just how serious sin is. We use the same way of speaking when we say something like ‘If you do that again I’ll kill you.’ It’s called hyperbole, an exaggerated way of speaking to make a point. Jesus says, ‘If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off! If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out!’ He is saying that that is how serious sin is, because it is the one thing that can come between us and the happiness that God wants for us. It is possible to lose it. The Lord is constantly warning us to be careful of the things that can destroy us, just as any parent will warn their children. Parents want the best for their children. God wants the best for us, but we must listen to what he tells us. Nothing we can have on earth is worth losing what God has waiting for us in heaven.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.