Thursday, August 1, 2013


Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:1-23

We don't like it when we get caught making a mistake. I know I don't. When I was little I tried to cover up my mistakes and/or bad behavior. I have come to realize that it takes a healthy, well-adjusted adult to admit to their mistakes and to live with the consequences. It is one of the most refreshing gifts to work with folks who admit to their humanity while striving to do better, to reconcile and to heal.

Jesus is very impatient with the childishness of the religious leaders. They criticize and judge others while they fail to police themselves. They want to control others, and be better than others, but they are unwilling to "man up" and admit to their shortcomings, which only creates more pain, suffering and abuse. We can understand this, how we ache for transparency and honesty, and know how hard these are to come by, whether in the church or in public life. We are invited to seek God's love in our hearts, taking on prayerful discipline and sacrificial living so that we can indeed be lovingly transparent and honest.

Today I ask God to help me, when tempted to judge or condemn others, turn inward and examine my own heart and my own behavior. May we live lives of prayer and sacrifice, seeking God's way of love and forgiveness today.

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