Purfied by the Holy Spirit

Mark 9: 41-50

If we were to find ourselves in the wilderness and we become thirsty, we’d first be advised to find some water, but then secondly, we'd want to find a way somehow to boil it over a fire.  Fire has the ability to purify.  In the same way, we are purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit.  Our readings today encourage us to seek conversion through the Holy Spirit to help restore us to God and fill us with his living water.

 

Our first reading today speaks to the rich, but even if we're financially poor, we probably have the same materialistic tendencies.  Shopping malls are designed to woo customers by appealing to those tendencies. Their marble floors, high ceilings, palatial looking architecture and indoor gardens cater to our desire to feel special, kinda like royalty.

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus warns us that it's very dangerous for us to cater to the desires of our flesh-nature.  Notice that he doesn’t say we're destroyed by the things of this world – we are destroyed by wrongly using or responding to the things of this world.  He puts the blame squarely on us - our hands, our feet, our eyes – not on what we hold, where we go, or what we see.
 

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off!" Our hands can bless others with loving touches or they can deliver a back-of-the-hand, or worse.
 

"If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off!" Our feet aided us in making our way to daily Mass today.  They can also put us in position to do good works for others. But they can also take us to places, or put us into positions where we ought not go, where temptations abound.
 

"If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!" Our eyes can lead us to a state of meditation as we admire one of our beautiful statues, or they can take us to places on TV or the internet where we ought not go.

 

Jesus says to all of this, "Cut it out!" This might lead us to ask, why be so dramatic about all of this?  Isn't his language kinda extreme?

 

Well, we could suppose it's sort of like the doctor who needs to be rather blunt with his patient because, if he doesn't effectively get the point across to him or her of the urgency of their condition (or even realize that it exists), they may not take the steps necessary to try to get better.

 

Jesus also says, "Everyone will be salted with fire."  Salt itself is a purifier.  Salt gets rid of the bacteria that causes food to spoil. The Holy Spirit is, again.... our delivery mechanism.  The Holy Spirit is the "fire" that will salt us and lead us to conversion.

 

The word "conversion", or “convert” comes from the Greek word epistrepho which means "to restore, to return, or to come again".  In our conversion, God restores us to himself and fills us with his living water.  When this takes place: (1) We know his love more deeply.  (2) We experience new hope in our battle against temptation. (3) We know that God is on our side, and that knowledge gives us strength and encouragement to keep moving forward.

 

We can get rid of the sinfulness that spoils our lives by letting the Holy Spirit consume us like a fire consuming a candle.  

 

Let us re-examine ourselves today, and give God our hands, our feet, our eyes – give him everything that might cause us to sin.   Jesus is saying, "Keep the salt of my love in your hearts and you will be at peace with one another."
 

So we ask the Holy Spirit to deliver to us more of his unquenchable fire. We don't need to go to the mall to feel like royalty. As we are purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit, we become who we really are: royal princes and princesses to the Great King we serve!  Let us pause today to feel the Spirit's warmth, and be converted, restored and revitalized!

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