God calls us into ever deeper friendship with Him
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 29, 2021): DT 4:1-,6-8; PS 15:2-3,3-4,4-5; JAS 1:17-18,21-22,27; MK 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
When we show disrespect for God by offending the dignity of our neighbors or ourselves, or by allowing selfishness or self-interest to come before His will, we sin.
Jesus listens to Pharisees and scribes criticize His disciples for not properly washing their hands before eating. There were strict rules about this and other ways of purifying the body after becoming dirty or contaminated in some way. So these Jewish leaders wanted to know why Christ’s followers did not conform to tradition. Instead of apologizing or focusing on what His disciples were doing, He called the men hypocrites and quoted Isaiah, saying that they were more interested in human customs and only honored God with their lips. They, in fact, were the ones who did not truly obey God’s commands. Then Jesus explains to the crowd what really matters to Almighty God. “Hear Me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.… From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile” (Mark 7:14-15, 21-23).
That is quite a list of thirteen ugly sins. Surely, His critics, His listeners, and His disciples – then and now – were guilty of one or more of these at some point. Christ wants everyone to understand that it is the decisions we make to think or say or do something sinful that keeps us apart from our Lord. When we show disrespect for God by offending the dignity of our neighbors or ourselves, or by allowing selfishness or self-interest to come before His will, we sin. When we know what is right, what is God’s way, and choose something else, we sin. Our Lord loves us and is ready to forgive us. But first we have to recognize where we have gone wrong and accept responsibility. Our Creator gave us reason and free will. We choose how to use them. Just as God chooses us, we choose God.
Suggested missionary action: Today we can choose to ask our Lord’s guidance in turning away from the sin that separates us from Him. We can choose to make an examination of our daily attitudes, words, and actions in order to avoid the faults that we make into habits.