The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.09.02
The Way and Hypocrisy
The Gospels must always speak to us of the challenges we face in our time.
We have to be mindful of this. The do tell something of the challenges the gospel writers faced in their own time, and that may be of interest to historians, but the intention of the sacred texts is to speak to us of our time.
In the case of the reading for today the Gospel speaks to us of a perennial problem of the church, like the hypocrisy of Church leadership.
The hierarchy today; priests and pastors, bishops and cardinals, they are often concerned with outward expressions of piety, with measureable matters of ritual purity, with creeds and codes, with canons and confessions, with the formula of faith rather than the living faith itself.
Jesus cared about the living faith, he cared about the real lives of real people. Everything Jesus did was subordinated to that.
We must do the same, we must have the same perspective, approach the world with the same spirit of generosity.
It is too often the case, and it is a problem that has plagued the church from the time that Jesus walked with the disciples.
Each and every one of us is a child of God, and God is present in the heart of all of God’s children. God is already present with the people, to the people, for the people the rituals that the church has organized for purification, they may have some social value, but if they are used to teach people that they are unworthy of the presence of God, then they are false teachings and they must be rejected.
God is not concerned with outward displays of piety, because evil resides in the heart of the human being, and that is where sin is born, in our evil intentions.
You Put Aside the Commandment of God, to Cling to Human Traditions
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,
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.’
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time