Luke 17: 1-6
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”
And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Many many years ago, there use to be all of these gangster movies. You know, the slicked back well dressed mob type gangsters. The ones that wore nice fancy suits and carried around “Tommy” guns cleverly hidden in those fancy suits. What was it that those guys use to do or threaten to do to the poor guy who wouldn’t cooperate with them? They would cast their feet into concrete blocks, or ankle their legs on concrete anchors and drop them overboard into the river or ocean. The term, “concrete shoes” was born. Whether this is all Hollywood, or if it was really done I don’t know. However you could make a strong argument that the origins of “concrete shoes” comes from today’s Gospel reading.
Millstones were very large stone wheels used for milling grain into flour. They were very large, very heavy, and they didn’t float. Jesus is telling us today that it would be better for us to have one of these very large stones tied to our necks and have us dropped overboard than what awaits those who lead others to sin, as well as those who do sin.
I’ve been rebuked by my brothers a few times in my life. I have been rebuked by my wife a few times in my life. I have been rebuked by a lot of people. Rebuking means to express displeasure or criticize someone. I have probably rebuked a great many people in my life as well. For good and for bad. Jesus wants us to play out our role in Salvation too. That means to accept the will of the Holy Spirit and be it’s instrument. Sometimes God gives us a swift kick in the backside through someone in our life.
When we rebuke someone for sinning, it isn’t that we are doing so because we think we are better than them, or they are inferior to us. We are doing it because we genuinely love them. Love them so much we don’t want them to end up on the wrongside of the millstone. We need to also forgive those (something that I am always in need of doing) who have hurt us and sinned against us. As Matthew says, God’s not going to forgive us until we start forgiving others.
Lastly, remember that even if you don’t seem to be getting through to someone in trying to help them turn their lives around, you may be planting a mustard seed in their soul that may sprout and turn them into something truly amazing. Never underestimate anything you do for the Kingdom of God.
Thought for the day: What am I doing to lead people to Christ? Am I not doing it out of comfort? Am I leading myself to the millstone or worse by not answering God’s call to play my role in their Salvation?