August 22, 2021 at 10:28 #1637
Read the Gospel Passage slowly and prayerfully, perhaps several times over a few days.
Let the Story speak to you in your own life, and don’t try to force a meaning, eg, the Story has always meant only such-and-such.
Ask “What are you trying to say to me?” in your own life here and now, with whatever is going on in your life.
Be ready to be surprised.
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Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
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.
“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.”August 23, 2021 at 12:10 #1642
In the Gospel Story Jesus says of the Pharisees that they are “teaching as doctrines human precepts”. That sort of thing is still going on today in many versions of Christianity, include the Roman Catholic version.
There have been and are instances of preachers telling their people that God wants them to vote for or against certain candidates or issues, that it is an offense against God to wear a mask or get the vaccine, etc. In the Roman Catholic version of Christianity there are any number of laws that seem to have little if anything to do with God and more about maintaining good order in the church by keeping the people “in line”, including, but not limited to, declaring that certain persons created in the image and likeness of God (one of our basic doctrines) are “intrinsically disordered”; the way the system treats folks whose marriages have failed (some marriages between good people do fail) and marry again, and are prevented by the institutional system from sharing fully in Eucharist. Also, the way women who become pregnant outside of marriage are treated. There seems to be an excessive preoccupation with the genital aspects of sex.
Pope Francis is working to get rid of the clericalism built into the system by celibate male priests who for centuries have been making and enforcing the rules.
The institution seems to equate doing our best to follow Jesus with keeping all its rules and regulations, saying, in effect, if you want to get to God you have to go through us. Memorize the catechism, follow to the letter canon and liturgical laws and you will make God happy.
None of this comes from God. Jesus never did anything like this.August 29, 2021 at 09:47 #1718
While keeping the “rules” is important in varying degrees, ever more important is our fundamental role as followers of Jesus of being open to the Spirit for ongoing conversion, of learning what it is to follow Jesus in our own circumstances. Everything in our tradition has for its purpose leading us to this conversion and to encounter Christ in our everyday life.
The Marines, Sailor, and Soldier who were KIA this week were living for something beyond their own comfort and convenience, a cause beyond themselves. Jesus said that what comes from our hearts — our values — are what defile us or improve us. Our values show us who we really are. As we take a serious look at our values we come to know ourselves better. When we are open to the Spirit and to conversion, what seems to happen is a change in the values we use to make our choices and decisions. When we focus on keeping all the rules, the emphasis is on us and what we do, and it puts us in the position of thinking we can judge others. Being open to the Spirit puts the emphasis on God and our openness to conversion. The rules keep everything neat and orderly in our minds, but as we know, life is not neat and orderly, and the Spirit happens in real life as it is. Being open to conversion leads to doubt, uncertainty, questioning, and growth.
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