Mark 7  1-8  14-15  22-23

The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him.

They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees – Jews in general, in fact – would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).

 The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”

 Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy, Ditching God’s command and taking up the latest fads.”

 Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you – take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”

 He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness – all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”

Gospel Reflection

The distinction between the way of life of the Pharisees and the deeper meaning given by Jesus is clearly stated. We can become very shallow if we only fulfill the ‘obligations’ of society and pay no attention to where our heart is. God tells us that we are important, that we are loved by Him, and helps us to live that deeper life and so appreciate the gifts below the surface.

It’s good to give thought to what is ‘coming into me’ and where it comes from, as well as what is ‘going out from me’ and where it comes from. Authenticity and happiness are consolations that go deep even if the surface aspect of life is disturbed. The self-knowledge that comes from God’s work in us is peaceful.

Jesus often impresses upon us the need to act upon his word. It is not enough to honour him with our lips. One can argue with words, but deeds speak for themselves. The Word is planted deep in me, and I pray in the words of the Apostle James, “let me be a doer of the word, and not a forgetful hearer. If I am a doer that acts, I shall be blessed in my doing.”