Gospel: Mt 14:22-36 (or Mt 15:1-2, 10-14)
Immediately, Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowd away.
And having sent the people away, he went up the mountain by himself, to pray. At nightfall, he was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it.
At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, “Courage! Don’t be afraid. It’s me!” Peter answered, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God!”
They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognized Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to him all the sick people, begging him to let them touch just the hem of his cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.
Jesus’ disciples are criticized by the Pharisees for not strictly observing customary laws and rituals particularly that of purification, i.e., washing their hands before eating. The Pharisees believe that their non-observance of these legal prescriptions automatically makes them less religious. It can also be taken to mean they lack respect for the Law and Sacred Scriptures. Jesus takes the occasion to make a clarification that “what defiles a person is not what enters into his mouth but what comes out of his mouth.”
Sin is not found in what one eats but in the person’s abuse of the gift of speech. By saying this Jesus is in effect saying that what needs purification, first and foremost is the interior or the heart of a person. External purification should mirror the internal cleansing that preceded it. External purification is a sham and does not make sense unless the person is interiorly clean. It could also be taken to mean that for Christians the choice and amount of food intake should never be a matter to be morally disputed about except perhaps for health benefits or otherwise.