Mark 7: 1-8
In the passage, the Pharisees, and the scribes, clothed in righteousness, came upon Jesus and his disciples in a moment of rest. For the Pharisees, the hand washing was the issue of spiritual purity and was considered an integral part of Jewish faith and identity.
In Jesus’s response, we get a sense of what is important to God. Jesus told his disciples that the things we eat do not enter our hearts but enter our stomachs. In the stomach, the food is used as it is needed and then released to the sewer.
It is those things that come out from our hearts that defile us, not the things that go into our mouths. Jesus declared that clean or unclean is not physical matter such as food, but rather human hearts that matter by going against centuries of tradition and countless scripture of law in the Hebrew Bible.
Jesus’s teaching in the passage reminds us that we should examine our own defiled hearts rather than our neighbor’s dirty hands. In addition, hardness of heart is the most serious problem for our spiritual condition, revealing a lack of compassion toward others.
The challenge in today’s passage is to recognize how we, like the Pharisees, misinterpret what is important to God. What are the religious practices we pursue, and why do we pursue them? I wonder what traditions and practices we hold dear. What really matters to us?
In today’s passage, Jesus even did not condemn all of Judaism and its leaders. We too should be careful not to speak in ways that condemn whole groups of people or religious traditions that differ from our own.
The real truth in today’s passage is that what we eat or what we don’t eat is not important.
What thoughts we have in our minds and hearts about other people and how we behave towards them is much more important. The evil intentions that come from our hearts separate us from God. When we use religious rules in a wrong way, we separate ourselves from one another.
What should matter for us is God’s law, not religious practices or traditions, or our own rules.
The spirit of God’s law is about loving God and our neighbors; respecting and honoring diversity and differences; and working for justice and generosity from ourselves to our neighbors, our community, and our world.
Let’s keep checking our commitment in order to bear God’s fruits.
Let’s keep remembering what really matters between God and us; and between us and others.
And let’s keep coming to God with our defiled and hardness of heart and asking for forgiveness.