FEB. 9. ORDINARY TIME. (B) WK. 5. TUE. MK. 7. 1-13
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
0while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’
And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Corban (that is, dedicated to God), then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother.” In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.’
The issue Christ raises here continues to be a major problem today: “This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me!” This is because “lip-service” is so easy, while the following of Christ’s teachings is so difficult!
At the heart of the issue of course is “Love”! It is so easy to say we Love God, but it is far from easy to do what we profess! And how do we overcome this issue?
We make our own “rules” that are easier to abide by!
And this is exactly what the Pharisees did, and while it is so easy for us to be critical of such behaviour there is a very good chance we are guilty of the same offences on a reasonably frequent basis?
And Christ makes this same point quite clearly: And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get around the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! And how ingenious we are, today, at loving and caring for our own traditions, our own values, our own way of life?
Christ’s teachings are very clear, but are we not “flexible” when it comes to living them? Do we not “interpret” and “manipulate” them so they fit in with our own desires and current comfortable way of life?
This is why Christ left us the Gospels, and why we cannot afford to continually leave them on the bookshelf, because it is through the Wisdom of the Gospels that we learn how to “Love!”