First reading James 5:1-6 

The Lord hears the cries of those you have cheated

An answer for the rich. Start crying, weep for the miseries that are coming to you. Your wealth is all rotting, your clothes are all eaten up by moths. All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be your own sentence, and eat into your body. It was a burning fire that you stored up as your treasure for the last days. Labourers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realise that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart’s content. It was you who condemned the innocent and killed them; they offered you no resistance.
 

Responsorial Psalm  48(49):14-20

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
This is the lot of those who trust in themselves,
  who have others at their beck and call.
Like sheep they are driven to the grave,
  where death shall be their shepherd
  and the just shall become their rulers.
 
How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
With the morning their outward show vanishes
  and the grave becomes their home.
But God will ransom me from death
  and take my soul to himself.
 
How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
Then do not fear when a man grows rich,
  when the glory of his house increases.
He takes nothing with him when he dies,
  his glory does not follow him below.
 
How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
Though he flattered himself while he lived:
  ‘Men will praise me for all my success,’
yet he will go to join his fathers,
  who will never see the light any more.
 
How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 

Gospel Mark 9:41-50

If your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off

Jesus said to his disciples:
  ‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.
  ‘But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck. And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm does not die nor their fire go out. For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is a good thing, but if salt has become insipid, how can you season it again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.’
 
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The task to lead people to God

“But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone hung round his neck. And if your hand should be your downfall, cut it off…”. Jesus is not encouraging us to cut off our hands, feet, eye physically. Instead, by using these vivid images, He wants to shake us up so that we can come to our senses and not take our discipleship so lightly.  Thus, we need to allow Jesus to work in us and lead us to constant conversion, not to be a scandal that causes others to lose faith.
 
This implies cutting off jealousy, envy, pride, selfishness, prejudices, etc., that can cause us to become stumbling blocks for others to grow in their knowledge and love for God. May our words and actions be stepping stones for others to Jesus, and not be stumbling blocks that cause them to lose their way to Him.
 
Question for reflection:
How can I become the disciple that Jesus has called me to be?
 
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year C” by Sr Sandra Seow FMVD.