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

Now 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.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

God’s love is infinite

Sometimes our relationship with God can become a business transaction rather than a response to God’s love. In his second set of discernment rules, St. Ignatius says that people who are trying to love God are often tempted to add prayers, devotions, and practices to their spiritual lives, thinking that God will love them more. But God’s love is infinite; there is no “more” or “less” about it.  Ultimately our relationship with God is not a transaction but a matter of the heart.  Jesus’ heart was filled with the knowledge of the Father’s love for him and this freed him from having to do anything to earn that love.

The Pharisees did things out of a sense of obligation rather than love, thinking that God owed them for their strict external observances. Does my relationship with God ever slip into a business transaction? How?

—Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and director of St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

 

Prayer

Jesus, make my heart like yours so that I may never doubt God’s love for me or feel compelled to do something to earn that love. Amen.

—Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ