August 31, 2012

22nd Sunday - B

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

Seeing the Big Picture

The Pharisees and some scribes “observed that some of [Jesus’] disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.” (emphasis mine)

But when they challenged Jesus, they put the accusation on all of the disciples, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

They get caught up in the details and the little things. Consequently, they only notice others’ mistakes and failures, according to their standards. And they fail to see the good in others. (Or at least, they did not mention that some of Jesus’ disciples observed the rituals).

In the same manner, they stressed the details of ritual and religious practices. And they could not, or would not, see the reason behind these practices, namely the relationship with God.

The practices and rituals exist for a reason. In fact, they are the expressions of the Jewish faith in “the all-important truth that God is found in all the activities of life” [1] . Moreover, since eating is essential to life, it should not be separated from God’s gift of life. Again, "the Pharisees and some scribes" missed the big picture.

Jesus by no means dismisses the importance of the rituals. At the same time, he teaches that rituals are not the end in themselves.

If we see God in all things and in all people, then these rituals have their place and value in the big picture of things.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B. Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993; p. 178.

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