In our gospel, we hear Jesus talk about this frightening place, Gehenna, a valley located south of Jerusalem that earned a reputation as the location of an idolatrous cult that performed human sacrifices. No wonder Jeremiah and Isaiah curse it as a place for those who don't do God’s will, for those who are rebels against the Lord. Gehenna assumed the character of a place of suffering, damnation, and eternal torment for the damned.
In the New Testament, Gehenna is mentioned twelve times and is equivalent to hell, with unquenchable and perpetual fires, a place of unspeakable misery. Jesus warns us about this place by telling us that sin is very serious and deadly; sin is that serious that physical suffering like being thrown into the sea with a millstone around one’s neck is not that bad compared to the spiritual punishments that one might undergo for one’s sins.
Sin has consequences, and hell, which is this spiritual place or state excluded from God’s presence, might be one of them, certainly the worst one. God is merciful indeed, but also demanding be-cause he loves us. If something causes you to sin, to go to this place away from God, cut it off be-fore it is too late! Jesus is telling us to do whatever it takes to do God’s will and stay away from damnation. May the Lord help us to increase our faith and keep us away from Gehenna, from hell!