Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clean Hands

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 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. 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 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

We are visiting with my mother-in-law for several days. She is notorious for asking whether folks had washed their hands. She's a real stickler about it and we often joke around about her cleanliness bordering on OCD. She is a pharmacist by training and knows all too well how sick people can get when they don't wash their hands. We attended church with her last night at Immaculate Conception and her priest talked about the challenges of a keeping a clean heart. Washing hands is relatively easy. Ridding ourselves of our selfishness, judgmental attitudes and destructive behaviors are much harder. No matter how much soap we use, we cannot clean our hearts. We need God's help for that.

The faith leaders wanted to find fault in Jesus and his followers. The disciples didn't keep the traditional ways of their elders. They followed Jesus and took seriously the need to be humble and live a simple, shared life. We are invited by God to be like those early followers of Jesus. We are invited to cleanse our hearts, to live humbly and seek God's help with all our trials and tribulations. We can wash our hands, but we are also invited to wash out those things and behaviors that keep us from relationship with God and our neighbor.

Today I ask God to help me cleanse my heart and seek forgiveness from those I have injured, May our work be that of seeking God and neighbor, living simply and humbly with all we encounter today.

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

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