GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
So let me just press pause there for a minute before we move on, move any further. It has become popular in recent years — in fact I just saw the other day someone commenting on this — to say the Bible isn't that concerned with the fate of individuals, and it certainly isn’t that concerned with the whole issue of hell. That's something that's a medieval concern that the Catholic Church has made up, but if you look at the Bible itself, the Bible isn't really worried about the individual fate of believers or the eternal punishment of individuals. I have to respond to that claim, and just point out, that is completely false, right. Not only is the eternal fate of individuals a major priority of Scripture as a whole, it's a major priority of Jesus himself, right. Again, no one talks about Gehenna or hell in the New Testament more than Jesus himself. He speaks about hell more times than the rest of the entire New Testament combined, precisely because Christ loves every single human being, because he doesn't want any human being to spend eternity separated from him and separated from God and to experience the pain of that eternal separation, which he's describing here through the images of fire and eternal corruption and eternal, everlasting death. I mean these are serious, serious issues here. So Jesus is drawing on Jewish tradition, using Jewish images to describe this spiritual reality of eternal separation from God and he's essentially telling us in the gospel for today, do whatever it takes to avoid being separated from God forever. Do whatever it takes to avoid ending up in the fires of Gehenna rather than the kingdom of God.
You might have noticed that too, what is the antithesis of Gehenna? What is the opposite of Gehenna? Well Jesus said, it's better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye then with both eyes to be cast into the fires of Gehenna. So these are the two possible fates for every human being, we can either enter into the kingdom of God and be with him forever, or we can enter into the fires of Gehenna and be separated from him forever. Those are the two possibilities that every human being has to stand before, and Jesus is saying if anything impedes your entry into the kingdom of God, if there's any obstacle to you being united with God forever in an eternal union of communion and happiness and joy, then you have to root out that obstacle, you have to cut off that impediment to entering into the kingdom of God...
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
Now I can’t help when I hear these words to think about the Lord’s Prayer. Because if you look at the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, of which there are several echoes throughout the letter of James, James is one of the letters of the New Testament that scholars have shown that has some of the most explicit and also most quantitatively highest number of allusions to the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, of course the Lord’s Prayer is one of the central elements of the Sermon on the Mount and there in the Sermon on the Mount, in the Lord’s Prayer think about the kinds of things that Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for. They don’t begin by praying and saying, “I want this, I want that, I’d like this, I’d like that.” They begin first of all by desiring the glory of God. “Our Father, who art in heaven…” Number one: let your name be hallowed. Number two: let your will be done. Let your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. So the first thing we do is begin by praying for the glory of God. That’s not the natural inclination of human beings. We tend to pray first for things that we want, not for the glorification of God, but that’s the way Jesus teaches the disciples to pray.
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