24 February 2022, The Tablet

Learning to be free

The Lenten journey

Learning to be free

Photo: CNS, Philippe Vaillancourt


Lent is almost upon us. Serious illness can be a lesson in how we can serve this apprenticeship in the freedom of the children of God

The gospel for the Thursday in the last week in Ordinary Time before the beginning of Lent (Mark 9:41–50) brims over with violence. First, there is violence against those who harm these “little ones” – “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea” – a moral outrage perhaps we need more of when faced with the scandalous abuse of children.
But there is also a disturbing violence against one’s own body: “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.”

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