In C.S. Lewis’ classic, “The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon, Screwtape, corresponds with his nephew, Wormwood, a junior tempter. Screwtape is attempting to provide guidance for Wormwood in his quest to secure the damnation of a British man, referred to only as the Patient. In one letter, Screwtape is attempting to console his nephew when the Patient becomes a Christian, chastising him but letting him know that all is not lost. He advises Wormwood to lean particularly heavily on the patient’s neighbors while in church. The patient will find that the body of Christ is entirely composed of unsavory and annoying characters, which provide as many great opportunities for sin as anything else.
In today’s gospel Jesus calls us to consider all of those other Christians, those occasions for sin, our family. For those of us that have ever been a part of a family, we know that, Screwtape is certainly correct in saying that they can present just as great an occasion of sin as anything else. You may love your brothers and sisters and your parents and they may even love you back. However, you don’t always find yourself liking them. Believe it or not, that’s fine because as much as they can be occasions for sin, they can be occasions for grace. In those times, we have to lean on God all the more, but the fruit that comes from bearing each other’s burdens as Christ bears ours, is incredible.
It is in loving each other through our faults that we truly know what it means to look at each other not through Screwtape’s eyes, but with the eyes of Christ. That way we find ourselves looking at each other not as opportunities to fall, but to lift up.