Reflection on Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Gospel of Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 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.”

Let us Pray: Dear God help us as we speak that we think about the words we are about to say, won’t be cruel or harmful to others. Guide us in the ways of your Son so we respect everyone and we speak through our hearts with love for all. This we pray in your name. Amen

We can all look fine on the outside, that’s easy. Keeping the inside clean is so much harder.  Jesus reminds us: “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” How many times have you said something or did something you wish you could take back? This is defilement that comes out from the heart, and we become stained by the human tendency to selfishly bend the world to our own appetites and desires, in ways that hurt and disrespect other children of God. Today may be a good day for us to ask ourselves at times, do we judge or critique others because they are not following the law, be that the law of God or the law of the land? We probably do. Many of our judgments are automatic. They may be leftovers from what we were taught as a child. Judgments simply are part of our human condition. And often we may not be fully aware that we are judging another person for breaking one of the laws or rules we consider to be important. Most all of us do not like it when another person judges us. Yet at times, we automatically judge others when we may not have the complete picture. It is not our place to judge others. This is God’s work to do. When you find yourself beginning to judge another, stop, breathe, and pray. Then go on about your day. You may find your day is lighter and brighter without so much judgment! True religion is that which is pure and undefiled before God and the Father and instead of judging we need to be more concerned about caring for those in need of our support in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Be doers of the word and not hearers only be hands that heal not criticize and do not put down others less fortunate.

Let us pray: Eternal God, hear our prayer for the peoples of Afghanistan. There is a profound humanitarian crisis. Countless people, mostly women and children, are now fleeing and vulnerable. The lives of many are now endangered. The hopes of many are forgone. Send your Spirit, Lord, to rally the resolve of the nations of the earth to find pathways to save human lives, protect human rights, and to resolve the hardships of those seeking refuge, asylum, and safety. Hear our prayer for the peoples of Afghanistan. This we pray as followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen. (Source: The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church USA)

August 29, 2021

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