“You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.”
We now return to Saint Mark, for the rest of the year. The Gospel brings out one of the central problems of all religion: the way in which peripheral laws and customs gradually take over the more fundamental commandments, and the way in which “externalism” and a concern with superficialities gradually suffocates a true “internal” faith which is lived out. Here we see the angry Jesus: he calls them “hypocrites”, as he condemns their “worthless worship”. He teaches a central truth: it is what comes from within that determines whether we are clean or unclean, good or evil. The commandments of God, which Moses puts before the people with such great pride, become the source of justice when they are given a place in the heart. When other rules and regulations about how to wash and what to eat displace them, then they are stifled and justice is practised no longer.
Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain? He who walks without fault, he who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart. He who does no wrong to his brother, who casts no slur on his neighbour, who holds the godless in disdain, but honours those who fear the Lord. He who keeps his pledge, come what may; who takes no interest on a loan and accepts no bribes against the innocent. Such a man will stand firm for ever.
Alleluia, alleluia! Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life. Alleluia!
First Reading: Deut 4:1-2,6-8
Second Reading: Js 1:17-18, 21-22,27
Gospel Reading: Mark 7:12-8,14-15,21-23