Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Defiles


Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly 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 human precepts as doctrines.'
"You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."
Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God) - then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this."
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:1-23 

The sun was shining yesterday and in the afternoon we went looking for whales since many had told us they had seen them. It is herring season and the whales are feasting. Our first drive all the way out Sawmill Creek seemed fruitless and slow. We spent some time in the park and then returned home. But right as we were to give up, we spotted some spouts and decided to investigate. With a little patience and watching we saw orcas, listening to them,watching them rise and fall in the water. We are blessed to live in a place where such abundance is our entertainment. Anyone who has seen the movie Jaws knows how repulsive and frightening these creatures are. Something so dangerous is also so incredibly beautiful.  What God has made is not ugly or bad, but it is what we do with God's creatures and to one another is truly where evil arises.

Jesus grew up with very strict dietary laws and was being held accountable by the religious leadership. In his tradition he was engaging in forbidden behavior -not just with what and how he and the disciples ate -but even more with the people they associated with. They were breaking the long held traditions. He reminds them all that what or who we take in does not defile us, it is how we treat others - what comes out of us - that defiles us. We are known by our actions of evil. We are invited this lent to consider how we treat others, how we judge others and how we care for them rather than what we do or do not eat. We are asked to examine our hearts.

Today I ask God to help me examine my heart and be cleansed of all malice and evil. May we live with a loving heart, letting go of judgement and taking up compassion. May our words and actions invite others to know God's love today.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Orcas? I'm so jealous!