Tag Archives: Phytolacca americana

We Are Our Neighbors’ Keepers

“We Are Our Neighbors’ Keepers”
Mark 9:42-48 in a couplet
Sunday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 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. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Mark 9:42-48

By the use of hyperbole, hearers are shaken out of complacency concerning their actions and influence on others. The dominant images for sin in Scripture are an arrow or stone “missing the mark” or a “wandering” from the right path.

The Hebrew word for sin, chatta’ah, is derived from the verb chata, “to miss the mark, target or way.”

The Greek word for sin, hamartanó, means “to miss the mark.” 

Over and over again in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Israelites are commanded by God to “walk in his ways” (Deuteronomy 8:6). To stray from the path is to choose death rather than life (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

Those who cause others to stumble (skandalizó) put snares in the path of the vulnerable and cause them “to fall into a trap” (Mark 9:42). 

Sin cripples self and others. Love leads neighbors to life and shalom.