The Gospel According to Mark 7:14-23
He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus, he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within, and they defile.”
Reflection: Growing up we all heard this from our moms as we were summoned into the house for dinner. “Go wash your hands before you come to the table, cuz dinner’s ready. And as long as I came to the table with water dripping off of my hands… I was good enough and ready to eat. A little bit of dirt never hurt anyone, right? It was the ritual that my mom wanted to create. This ritual would eventually become a habit that we would never forget as we grew into adults and eventually parents with our own dirty little hands and faces.
Jesus explains to us in this Gospel that it’s not what we put in our mouths that matters, but what come out of our mouths that truly matters. Jesus’ criticism is that the Pharisees are substituting their human traditions for the Devine commandments. He rejects this Old Testament tradition surrounding the law’s observance warning them about creating laws simply to show their so-called power over the people.
Jesus started this, with their not washing their hands before eating, and that he is indeed the authoritative interpreter of the Old Testament laws, putting the Pharisees in their places.
Action of the Day: The next time you’re at Mass, look closely at the actions of the Priest and Deacon, on the alter, to see if you can identify any of the Old Testament Rituals.