Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
After the Gospel, have servers bring me the silver hand washing bowl, the pitcher, and the towel, and wash my hands. I dry them and say, “There, I am made holy and new!” That is what the Pharisees are saying in our gospel. Just because a ritual is done does not make one holy. Later in the mass, the servers will bring me those things and I will pray quietly, “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” At that time, I will try with all my might to be changed as I do this ritual. We do simple rituals all the time, but do we do them with meaning? We say, “I love you!” But do we really mean it? “I am sorry!” But are we really sorry? Our readings challenge us to give real meaning to the rituals we do.
In our first reading Moses stands before the people and says, “Hear the statutes and the decrees which I teach you today from the Lord God and live them.” In ancient times, laws of other nations were done to find favor with their gods. Israel’s laws were given to them as a favor by God. When the people followed God’s laws they would show their wisdom and intelligence.
In our second reading, the writer James says, “You must be listeners of the Word, but you also must be doers of the Word.” God’s laws call us to action and there must be some evidence in our lives that we hear and understand.
In our gospel, the Pharisees and the scribes are saying, “A good Jewish person knows they are to wash their hands before eating.” Jesus responds, “A good Jewish person knows they are to wash before eating and contemplate that they are to be also clean on the inside. Have you forgotten that the greatest evil is not from the outside, but from the inside of us? Change what is on the inside.”
As we gather today, may we re-evaluate the rituals in our life and make sure they are all life giving and full of meaning. The Eucharist is given to us, not to miss this most important ritual of our lives; the transformation of simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. May this ritual bring live to all the rituals in our life this week.