NUMBERS 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
PSALM 19:7-14
JAMES 5:13-20
MARK 9:38-50

In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus seemingly offers a fairly extreme way to avoid wrongdoing.

Apparently, if you sufficiently dismember yourself, you won’t be able to take any wrong action. This is, at least, the logic by which Jesus reduces the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees to the absurd.

In their view, the law could be satisfied, and thus goodness attained, if you simply avoided sinning. You’re “right” if you’ve done nothing “wrong.” You could keep from sinning if you simply eliminated the bodily parts that make sinful actions possible. You’d stay out of hell, but you’d roll into heaven a mutilated stump.

Ouch.