|Catholic Mass Reading & Reflection of the day (8/30/2015)
taken from http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
1 Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the
scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his
disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the
Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their
hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come
from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify
themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe,
the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5 And the
Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live
according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands
defiled?" 6 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you
hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their
lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8 You leave the
commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men."
14 And he called the people to him again, and said to them, "Hear
me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside
a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which
come out of a man are what defile him."21 For from within, out of
the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder,
adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy,
slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from
within, and they defile a man."
Which is more important to God - clean hands or a
clean mind and heart? The Scribes and Pharisees were upset with
Jesus because he allowed his disciples to break with their ritual
traditions by eating with unclean hands. They sent a delegation all
the way from Jerusalem to Galilee to bring their accusation in a
face-to-face confrontation with Jesus. Jesus dealt with their
accusation by going to the heart of the matter - by looking at God's
intention and purpose for the commandments.
Allow God's word to shape your heart and intentions
Jesus explains that they void God's command because they
allow their hearts and minds to be clouded by their own notions of
what is true religion. Jesus accuses them specifically of two
things. First of hypocrisy. Like actors, who put on a show, they
appear to obey God's word in their external practices while they
inwardly harbor evil desires and intentions.
Allow God's word to change your way of thinking
Secondly, he accuses them of abandoning God's word by substituting
their own arguments and ingenious interpretations for what God
requires. They devised clever arguments based on their own
thoughts rather than on God's word. Jesus refers them to the
prophecy of Isaiah (29:31) where the prophet accuses the people of
his day for honoring God with their lips while their hearts were
far away from choosing and doing what God asked of them.
Uproot wrong thoughts and attitudes before they grow
Where does evil spring from and what's the solution for eliminating
it from our lives? Jesus deals with this issue in response to the
religious leaders' concern with ritual defilement - making oneself
unfit to offer acceptable sacrifice and worship to God. The
religious leaders were concerned with avoiding ritual defilement,
some no doubt out of fear of God, and others out of fear of pleasing
Jesus points his listeners to the source of true defilement -
evil desires which come from inside a person's innermost being.
Sin does not happen. It first springs from the innermost recesses
of our thoughts and intentions, from the secret desires which only
the individual soul can conceive.
Only Jesus can free us from sin and guilt
God in his mercy sent his Son Jesus Christ to free us from our
sinful cravings and burden of guilt, and to restore us to wholeness
of life and goodness. But to receive his mercy and healing, we must
admit our faults and ask for his forgiveness. "If we say we have
no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we
confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our
sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8-9).
Let Jesus be the master of your heart and desires
When Cain was jealous of his brother, Abel, God warned him to
guard his heart: "Sin is couching at the door; it's desire is
for you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7). Do you
allow any sinful desires to enter the door of your heart and mind?
We do not need to entertain or give in to sinful desires or
thoughts, but instead, through the grace of God, we can choose to
put them to death rather than allow them to be the master who
controls our way of thinking, feeling, and acting.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness
Only God can change our hearts and make them clean and whole
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Like a physician who probes
the wound before treating it, God through his Word and Spirit
first brings to light our sinful condition that we may recognize
sin for what it is and call upon God's mercy and pardon. The Lord
is ever ready to change and purify our hearts through his Holy
Spirit who dwells within us. His power and grace enables us to
choose what is good and to reject what is evil. Do you believe in
the power of God's love to change and transform your heart?
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make my heart like
yours on fire with love and holiness. Strengthen my will that I
may always choose to love what is good and to reject what is