Would be a sad day if we all took the Gospel literally. The majority of us would be running around mutilated. The radical words of Jesus have to be taken seriously, but not on the surface meaning.
Next to the Eucharist, our body is our most precious possession. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are supposed to look like God and God looks like us. Therefore, sin has no place in God’s original plan. We know the story. Everything was great in the Garden. No problems, no worries, perfect temperature. Then the liar came to cause suspicion. “You are not getting the best deal in town. You could do a lot better for yourselves. God is holding out on you.” Original innocence was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed because they did not trust. Interestingly they had not noticed their nakedness until they sinned. The unity they experienced with God was severed. Our ancestors could speak with God and He would talk with them every day. Sin closed the door to communication because of guilt. When they realized that they were naked God asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?” Satan told them. He is the accuser, God is our defender. The devil was jealous of the unity that God had with humans. Sin separated us from our true identity—from the body—our communion with God. Just like when a child is pulled away from the mother, we cried when we were pulled away from God. However, in essence, we pushed ourselves away from God. All through history God has tried to pull us back by offering us unconditional love, by offering us His Son. Sin continues to be the main obstacle.
Remember long time ago when someone stole something, the punishment was to cut off the hand, so that the person would not steal anymore. Yet, the crime might have been repeated with the other hand. So the other hand might have been amputated. But the thief had a mouth, a foot, a leg. Cutting off body parts was indeed a severe punishment; but did not change the attitude. No body part has a will of its own. The body is controlled by the mind. Rather than slapping our hand or cursing our foot or plucking our eye we need to examine our attitude. What are the things that cause us to sin? What situations lead us into actions that we later regret? If we have been given the grace to discern, then we have to make changes.
Better not to associate with him/her/them if we can’t behave. We know about healthy behavior and negativity. We know the stuff that is life-giving and what leads us into sin. If alcohol changes our personality in a negative way—to the point that we loose control—we want to hit people, then alcohol has to be cut off. Whatever the hook is. Could even be an organization that keeps us from spending time with our family. Cut it off. Time to discern what is from God and what are the things that lead us into darkness. The choice is ours because God never takes away our freedom. To say, “The devil made me do it”—is not true. “It was my hand that hit you.” “My eyes saw something that they shouldn’t have seen.” Such arguments are for cowards. We are invited to be responsible for our actions and the consequences that our actions bring. Whatever we do we need to do in the light of the Gospel, in freedom. If we have doubts that our actions will not build the Kingdom, cut it off.
Better for us to make little sacrifices now, than to have regrets later. The Lord offers us the Communion of His Body and Blood to guide us.