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Multiply Your Love!

This people honours Me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from Me
Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8; Psalm 15:2-5; James 1:17-18,21-22,27; Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

Sermon Week Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 7:6

Seeking attention, a religious snob, who liked to appear full of virtue, once said to Mark Twain, “Before I die, to honor my religious traditions, I’m going to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I shall climb to the top of Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud!” To which Twain replied, “I have a better idea! Why don’t you stay right at home and keep them?”

In today's Gospel Lesson our attention is invited to a debate between Jesus and the Pharisees on some of the religious traditions of the time. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a traditionalist. Jesus was a traditionalist in His religious practices. He read the Scriptures. He worshipped and even preached in the synagogue. As a child, He had been circumcised and presented in the Temple, according to the Jewish Tradition. And yet, His fidelity to tradition was constantly being challenged by the Pharisees. In today's Gospel Lesson, they are at it again.

As you know, the Hebrew Tradition contained a great many dietary laws and customs, among which was the custom of scrupulously washing one's hands before eating. "Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders, but eat their food with unclean hands?" the Pharisees demanded of Jesus. And His reply was, "It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of the Scripture: 'This people honours Me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from Me'” (Mk. 7:5-6). Jesus knew that the Pharisees were using tradition to serve their own ends (in this instance, to gather evidence that Jesus was a lawbreaker). Jesus had often taught that there are times when laws and traditions can become obstacles to justice and equity and decency in human relationships. Consequently, they are subject to development ... enrichment ... and sometimes even abandonment. The merits of the Purification Laws are not at issue here, as far as Jesus is concerned. What is at issue is the Pharisees' insincerity. They were out to get Jesus, by any means. They were degrading the Law by using it as a [...]

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