Throughout Mark's Gospel the disciples are often portrayed as clueless, confused or downright resistant. In verses 38-50 Jesus moves into specific and graphic teachings that clarify precisely what is expected of a disciple of Jesus so that one does not become a stumbling block to others (v. 42-48). The Gospel begins with the disciples complaining to Jesus about an exorcist whom they tried to stop. While they are eager to bring judgment on this outsider, Jesus himself wants the disciples to pay attention instead to their own behavior. In verse 42 Jesus immediately turns the tables on the disciples, warning them that they are the ones in danger of doing harm. It's as though Jesus says, "The problem is not the folks outside our group. Don't worry about others -- they are not the problem. Rather, look to yourselves. How are you getting in the way of the gospel? How are you a stumbling block?" Jesus warns that finger pointing at others can distract us so that we do harm and cause others to stumble. Sometimes, even our best intentions to correct others can have unintended consequences for innocent bystanders. Great damage is done to the gospel when Christians are preoccupied with infighting and self-righteous proclamations about others. Jesus returns the focus back to our own behaviors, the ways we speak and live good news, and the ways we place obstacles in the way of that good news. The Greek word skandalon is used in each verse from 42-47. A skandalon is an obstacle that people trip over, and is usually translated "stumbling block." Jesus could not be more clear: he is talking about the danger that his own followers can do, and he uses the dire image of drowning to get his point across. This week's gospel lesson invites us to examine the stumbling blocks we place, often unknowingly, often in faithful enthusiasm, in front of the most vulnerable among us.