Gospel Reflections

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Barbara Barry

Published: August 30, 2015

Most laws usually come from a good place, from good intentions. They are meant to preserve some foundational good or to protect society, especially its most vulnerable, from harm. But often, as time passes, the primary purpose is forgotten and the law itself becomes more important than its original purpose. Some laws, though, come from a place of power, a group’s need to control.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to refocus the Pharisees and scribes. They are using the traditions of the Jews to trick Jesus, to catch him and declare him and the disciples as unfaithful. The tradition in question is about washing ones hands before eating. More than likely this tradition came out of a need to keep the community healthy but the Pharisees put the focus on the action, not its purpose. Their questioning of Jesus and the disciples does not come out of a concern for their wellbeing but from a need to prove them wrong, to show that they are not faithful Jews.

Jesus is saying that it is more important to have one’s heart in the right place. What is “inside of us,” in other words, what is our natural, created way of being, is good. Our decisions, our life choices, need to come out of that place, a place of goodness, a place of care for one another, a place of love.

Much of Jesus’ public ministry was trying to show how the community had strayed from the heart of the matter. His parables explained another way of looking at things. The Beatitudes pushed the commandments to another level of living out of love for one another. How often did Jesus say to his listeners, “You have been told…but I tell you…?”

In reading Scripture, we can trace the continual revelation of God through history. The dilemmas that the community faced, the prophets who preached, the women and men who lived out of a contemplative place – like Mary and Simeon, and Jesus himself, all of these revealed our God through time. And God continues to reveal God’s self in our time, through our life situations. We have a responsibility to question, to revisit what we say we believe, with a willingness to change if necessary. In John’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he came so that we may have life to the full. But that life isn’t just handed to us. We must seek it. We must be willing to look at what is in new ways to see what can be.






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