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Gospel Reading for February 6, 2024 – Mark 7: 1-13

DEATH SENTENCE

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 carefuly 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?” He responded, “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 went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is quorban” (meaning dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

————

The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was that they made their own image of God. It was a God the way they wanted him to be. This way, among ordinary people, they looked like gods themselves – pure and blameless. True, God is pure and blameless, but their perception of pure was very shallow, it had to do only with externals. Blameless because they were the experts of the Law, and had nothing to do with sin.

Since Jesus is the Son of God, he interpreted the Law according to what it really meant, or the purpose for which it was given, and this angered the scribes, the Pharisees, and even the high priests. It brought his DEATH SENTENCE. Truly, when one speaks THE TRUTH in the midst of those who do not want to accept it, one must be willing to sacrifice and die for it.

Lord Jesus, may we always make your teachings the basis of our understanding of God!

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