We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the future. We look at our gifts and abilities, reflect on our experiences and try to think what is truly possible. In other words, we look at the present in order to understand what the future may hold — what our true potential may be.
As a result, our potential can become a source of excitement and hope. Or, if there is little potential, there can be feelings of sorrow, sadness or hopelessness.
Sports are a prime example. Our culture spends a tremendous amount of time talking about the potential of sports teams. If there are good reports from the practices before the start of the season, excitement builds. However, if the star player is injured in practice before the start of the season, frustration can dominate discussion of the team.
When it comes to our lives of faith, what is our potential as Catholics? Everyone has the potential to become a saint. This is the ultimate goal for each and every single person no matter the particular vocation.
This means we are called to be in union with God through his son, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit now and in eternal life. We are called to cooperate with God’s grace. The challenge is trying to live up to this potential in our daily lives, and our readings this weekend offer some insights into how we, as Catholics, can live out our true potential and calling.
The second reading from St. James focuses on the potential life of those who commit injustice and commit their lives to excess. As is typical of this epistle, the exhortation makes it clear that something must be done to quell the “fattened hearts” of those who will not commit to living a life in service of God and neighbor. Our potential to become saints is limited by worldly attractions and desires. What needs to be cut out of our lives in order to make room for God?
Our Gospel for this weekend then helps to bring the first and second readings into a stronger focus. Jesus tells his disciples not to focus on the actions of a man who performed a healing in Jesus’ name, but rather focus on how this action could further the overall mission of bringing forth the Kingdom of God.
Jesus further tells, in no uncertain terms, how we ought to approach those areas of our life that lead us away from God: Cut it out of your life even if it will hurt. In fact, radical acts of denial may be needed to cut out sin. But this is always done so that we can be free to reach our potential, with God’s grace, of being saints. Saints cut everything out of their life that does not help them love God and neighbor.
All of us have the potential to become saints if we are open to God’s grace and work to cut out the sin that holds us back. There are constant graces being offered, but we must work to cooperate with these graces. We must cut off all those sins that keep us from holiness in Christ.
Let us pray that we become more and more conformed to Jesus Christ, who is the model of all saints, so we can one day experience the fullness of joy promised to all saints in heaven: our true potential.
Deacon Jake Greiner is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. His home parish is Holy Trinity Parish in Keota, Iowa, and his teaching parish is Mary Queen of Peace in Rogers.
Sunday, September 30, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Numbers 11:25-29
- James 5:1-6
- Mark 9:39-43, 45, 47-48
What needs to be cut out of your life in order to make room for God?
Category: Sunday Scriptures