This week’s Gospel begins with the disciples complaining, as they sometimes did, about someone outside their group performing works in Christ’s name. And, as is often the case, Christ immediately begins to correct them. “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us, is for us.” The disciples are engaging in a finger pointing exercise that back fires on them immediately. The rest of this sermon is Christ in so many words telling them to worry about themselves. Perhaps they are the problem. Perhaps they are acting as stumbling blocks towards others outside their group who are trying to do good works. They should be looking at themselves, and what causes them to sin. It reminds me of an old saying that if you start to think that everyone else is the problem you should look in the mirror.
Of course, we are all human, and do tend to act as stumbling blocks to each other at times. We either consciously or sub-consciously sometimes prevent others from doing their works for a variety of reasons. The language in this Gospel is very colorful, with a lot of cutting and maiming. However, He is inviting us to look at our own failings first, and to spiritually cut them out by analyzing our stumbling blocks.
This Gospel is inviting us to analyze ourselves before being critical towards others. Am I a stumbling block to my employees or employer? A stumbling block to those in my family? By a thorough examination of myself, can I become a stronger disciple of Christ and help to raise those people up, inspire them, and together do the work of Christ on earth?