Thank the Lord for the footnotes in the Bible. I really needed them today. As I was reading Today’s Gospel, I kept getting distracted by little side thoughts. What was wrong with the Pharisees and the scribes questioning who would eat with unclean hands? Let me ask this, did your Mom make you clean up before dinner – especially washing your hands? I just wasn’t catching the underlying tones to Jesus’ message this morning. So I took to other sources (other than my noggin’) to help me understand. The footnotes were of help…
* [7:1–23] See note on Mt 15:1–20. Against the Pharisees’ narrow, legalistic, and external practices of piety in matters of purification (Mk 7:2–5), external worship (Mk 7:6–7), and observance of commandments, Jesus sets in opposition the true moral intent of the divine law (Mk 7:8–13). But he goes beyond contrasting the law and Pharisaic interpretation of it. The parable of Mk 7:14–15 in effect sets aside the law itself in respect to clean and unclean food. He thereby opens the way for unity between Jew and Gentile in the kingdom of God, intimated by Jesus’ departure for pagan territory beyond Galilee. For similar contrast see Mk 2:1–3:6; 3:20–35; 6:1–6.
* [7:3] Carefully washing their hands: refers to ritual purification.
* [7:5] Tradition of the elders: the body of detailed, unwritten, human laws regarded by the scribes and Pharisees to have the same binding force as that of the Mosaic law; cf. Gal 1:14.
* [7:11] Qorban: a formula for a gift to God, dedicating the offering to the temple, so that the giver might continue to use it for himself but not give it to others, even needy parents.
Bishop Barren offered some insight into this too…
In its essence, love is an act of the will—more precisely, the willing of the good of the other as other. To love is really to want what is good for someone else and then to act on that desire.
Real love is a leaping outside of the narrow confines of my needs and desires, and an embrace of the other’s good for the other’s sake. It is an escape from the black hole of the ego, which tends to draw everything around it into itself.
I have set up rules in my house that I expect anyone living here to follow. They are rules that Sarah and I established in order to maintain good order in the household. Even as brilliantly scripted as they are, I know I need to be flexible in their enforcement (please, please, please don’t forward this post to Mary, Ruth, Tony or Teresa!!). My law, the law of the household, is simply that and not the end all be all to what is good in the world. Do these “laws” make my children better people – I would dare say yes. But in that, God’s law is designed to make them great people, perfect people, people who walk in the way of the Lord. So I think that is the message of our Gospel today. It’s ok to set guidelines and follow them but if those guidelines start to trump the message of God’s law; if you become like a god in enforcing them, then its time to rethink what they are and who you are. God is in charge; God alone makes the true laws; God alone.
LORD, God of Israel,
there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below;
you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants
who are faithful to you with their whole heart.
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Do something great for our Lord today – review the “laws” of your household. If you find them more important than that of what God demands of us; if their purpose is to give you glory and not the true Father of the House, make some changes. Having said that, please wash your hands before sitting down to the dinner table. AMEN.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.