Gospel: Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
One day, the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law asked him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.” Jesus then called the people to him again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”
Read: Moses commands absolute obedience to the Law given by Yahweh. James invites us to be doers of the word that has been planted in our hearts. Jesus highlights the need to understand the heart of the law and understand and follow its spirit.
Reflect: In the observance of religion, there is often a tension between fulfillment of ritual obligations and demands of charity and compassion. Such tension is palpable in the encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees following the ritually unclean act of the disciples. Jesus makes it clear: No law is good if it does not have charity as its fuel. James clarifies it functionally: “pure and blameless religion lies in helping the orphans, and widows in their need, and keeping oneself from the world’s corruption.”
Pray: We live in times of religious terrorism which forgets the centrality of charity at the heart of religion. Pray for those who have missed this essence of religion to rediscover the same and learn the ways of love.
Act: How can you practice “pure and blameless religion” in your context? List out three practical means.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2018