Putting personal preferences or traditions before God’s word will lead us away from His will
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 2, 2018): DT 4:1-2,6-8; 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 “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear Pharisees and scribes criticize Jesus for letting His disciples eat without the ritual hand washing with which the Jews generally preceded meals.
Our Lord immediately goes to the heart of the matter. “He responded, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.'… He summoned the crowd again and said… ‘Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile’” (Mark 7:6, 14-15).
Christ wants everyone who hears Him to understand that a ritual performed for the sake of the ritual itself is meaningless. Moreover, it can interfere with what really matters: worshipping God with hearts intent on obeying His will through holy lives. Our sins come from the depth of our minds and souls, however they may then involves our bodies. If our hearts are faithful to our Lord, we will have no room for the immoral results that Jesus mentions, including malice, arrogance, and greed. If a tradition or ritual does not open us to the merciful goodness of Almighty God, we need to reconsider what we are doing and why. Then we must resolve to use such practices to grow more like Him in all things. Treasuring the love of the Lord – and sharing it with others – must come first.