Gospel Reflection for 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – August 30th 2015
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
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 nave 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,
while 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.
He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.”
Mark 7:1-8. 14-15.21-23
You know with some vegetables you eat the leaves and the outside. With an artichoke you got to eat the heart. It’s the best bit. The best of religion is in the heart. Religion is of the heart. Jesus today talks a lot about that – lip service and hearts far from him.
The people who were wondering about the bits and pieces were sincere. They kept the law but then were intolerant of weakness in others. They missed often on people’s goodness and so they talked of people who didn’t wash hands, cups and God knows what else.
The heart is the place of true religion. We say that otherwise too – Get to the heart of things – a person has great heart – put your heart into it – their hearts are miles away For many of us who can’t sing, our hearts sing at Mass!
The heart is a dangerous place. The head will always be sensible – let the third world look after itself, after all they are spending on arms, but the heart will be broken by the hunger of the poorest. The head will tell you that you need sleep but your heart will get up to care for a baby or an elderly parent. So the religion of some of Jesus’ time was safe – the rules were kept but was there love?
The heart of religion is found in the heart of God. Love – ‘when you love do not say God is in my heart – say I am in the heart of God.
Donal Neary SJ