As Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to have a meal with him. So he went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not first wash his hands before dinner. But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.“
The Gospel of today seems very simple, but it is very deep. We deal here with the true nature of morality. What does the Lord expect from us: external formalities or internal attitudes? To wash the hands before dinner is a tradition added to the Law prescriptions. Pharisees were very observant of these. It was not a hygienic practice as we use it today. It was rather a sanctification of the meal.
Jesus doesn’t do the ritual. The polemic is engaged. The Lord explains the motive of his behavior. The Creator of our souls looks at the deepest truth of ourselves and doesn’t care much of our hands.
This is an evangelical lesson we must recall very often. We are so much accustomed to the precise devotions in order to obtain specific graces. Jesus wants to free us from this spiritual narrowness. Will we enter in the true freedom of the children of God?
As for the spirit of alms, Jesus gave similar teachings on the humility and discretion in order to be considered by the Father.
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