James 5: 1-6
Mark 9: 41-50


A few years ago, I was in charge of administering a private school. As part of the government accreditation process, we needed to ensure that not only the content and curriculum met the standards but also the physical structures. To have spacious laboratories, an additional building is needed. Although the contractors were responsible for the supervision, one of the sisters had to oversee the project to ensure that the plan was followed accurately. One day, we were surprised to see the sister in charge with a black eye and bruises on her arms. We were hesitant whether to laugh or feel sorry for her appearance. While inspecting the building after everyone had left, she stumbled on the rough ground due to a poorly visible cordon that surrounded the area. However,  the main purpose of the cordon that encircles the entire construction area is not to trap her but to prevent falls.

In today’s Gospel reading, Mark used the Greek word σκανδαλίσῃ, which comes from the root word σκανδαλον, translated into scandal. This word originally described a type of trap or a stone that would lead someone away from the right path. Jesus used powerful language, like being thrown into the sea or thrown into hell. This is not just a warning but a stark reminder of the severe consequences of causing someone to lose their faith. It underscores the importance of avoiding behaviors that may lead others astray.

Scandals can take many forms in today’s world, including political, financial, and social media scandals. Those who commit serious sins or crimes may suffer damage to their reputation and be held accountable by both God and the authorities. However, if we have a well-formed and informed faith, we can choose not to be scandalized to the point of losing our faith in God and leaving the Church. Jesus’ teachings, which are more than two thousand years old, continue to remind us, as practicing Catholics, not to mislead the innocent members of our communities through our dichotomous behavior.

Sr Rosana Estoque CP is a Passionist Religious, and the Pastoral Associate at St.Brtigid’s Chruch, Marrickville.

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