The Dictionary defines hyperbole as “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.” We use hyperbole when we want to dramatically make a point. For example, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Hyperbole is such over exaggeration that it draws the listener into the drama that we are describing.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus uses hyperbole to deepen his disciples’ understanding of the drama of discipleship. Jesus makes it clear that to be his disciple means that we must, with his grace, remove from our lives the sinful obstacles that keep us from him. So he uses hyperbole to make his point: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off… If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off… If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out…” Why is Jesus so dramatic about sin? Because sin is the one thing that can keep us from spending Eternal Life with him.
Of course, Jesus is using hyperbole to drive his point home; he doesn’t mean that we should literally maim ourselves. But he does mean that we need to be serious about rooting out sin. Sin drives a wedge between God and us. It keeps us from growing in our relationship with him.
Sinful habits are very powerful. They can take hold of us, control us, and ultimately destroy us. This is why it is so important that we develop the habit of frequent Confession. The reason is simple: we have sinful habits; so to counter those sinful habits we must develop the good habit of Confession. Confession is one of the ways that God helps us to uproot our sin. If we don’t develop the good habits of prayer, offering sacrifice and repenting for our sins, then sin will control us. And if sin ends up controlling us, then we lose our friendship with the Lord.
The truth is none of wants to lose our relationship with the Lord, and he doesn’t want to lose us. He loves us. This is why Jesus uses such strong language about the obstacles of sin. We should be willing to sacrifice anything in order to attain a deeper relationship with Christ and ultimately Eternal Life with him.
We can be sure that if we are committed to being more faithful to Christ he will help to rid us of the sinful obstacles that keep us from him. But we must be willing to work with the Lord. He not only wants us to spend Eternity with him, but he wants us to be holy in this life as well. How far are we willing to go? Are we willing to let go of our sins in order to be holy, in order to spend Eternity with Christ? The choice is ours. Let’s make the right one.