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When You Pray

So the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Him: **Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of our ancestors ... ?
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Sermon Topic Prayer

Sermon Week Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 7:5


A young man who comes from a conservative Christian tradition, tells the story of the time when he was training to be a paratrooper. He was being prepared for his first jump. The instructor explained that when he jumped out of the plane the parachute would open automatically. If by some mischance it didn't open, all he had to do was pull the rip chord attached to the emergency chute. "But what if the emergency chute doesn't open?" the trainee asked. "In that case," said the instructor, "just say 'Buddha be praised' and everything will be all right." Well, as a Christian, the young man wasn't too happy with that formula. Nevertheless he went up in the plane and he jumped and the parachute didn't open automatically. Quickly he pulled the emergency rip chord and still nothing happened. In desperation he cried out, "Buddha be praised," and a huge hand came out of a cloud and caught him. He wiped the perspiration from his brow, then reverted to his own tradition, saying, "Thank you, Jesus." Whereupon the huge hand let go and returned to the cloud. As the paratrooper began to fall again, he heard a voice coming from the cloud: "Into His hand I commend your spirit."

In today's Lesson, Jesus and the Pharisees discuss tradition. Some of the disciples had been observed eating meals without having purified; that is to say, without having washed their hands. Mark reminds us that the Pharisees, "and in fact all Jews, cling to the custom of their ancestors and never eat without scrupulously washing their hands. Moreover, they never eat anything from the market without sprinkling it. There are many other traditions they observe -- for example the washing of cups and jugs and kettles" (Mk.7:2-4). The Pharisees demand to know why Jesus' disciples didn't strictly observe these practices. Jesus answers with a quote from the Book of Isaiah: This people pays Me lip service but their heart is far from Me ...

Empty is the reverence they do Me because they teach as dogma mere human precepts (Mk.1:6-7).

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