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Teach Me Your Ways
Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles [and beds].) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy 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 as doctrines human precepts.’
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’(meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you see my heart. Form it to be sincere and centered on being faithful to all you desire.
- The Heart of the Matter: We can easily feel the difference of opinion inside and outside of the Church as to matters of practice and discipline. It takes reflection to distinguish what is unshakeable and essential doctrine and what are recommended practices of discipline and tradition. We need prudence and wisdom to get to the heart of the matter. Jesus is criticized for not following the human traditions, the externals that were set in place at one point in time to set the Jewish people apart from their pagan neighbors. The purpose was to preserve their fidelity to the one true worship of God. In our pious practices we can reflect, “Does this help to center my heart on God, or is it creating a Jansenistic-like heart, that places my salvation in the practice alone, to the exclusion of the Lord at the center?”
- The Universal Call: When Jesus challenged the Pharisees it seems that he opposed the law. But in fact, he helped them to see beyond the human traditions to the true moral intent of the law. The particular practice of kosher laws had become an obstacle for inviting the Gentiles to the table. Peter will discover this in Acts 10 and 11, when he is asked to kill and eat the animals that Jews had been forbidden to eat. God wills all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and Jesus intimated this by entering in and out of the pagan territory beyond Galilee. The Lord calls us all and will try to break down non-essential barriers in our lives to bring more souls into his fold. What barriers do I put up that inhibit people from approaching me so that I can share the Lord with them? Prejudices, negative attitudes, etc.?
- Formation as a Daughter of the Church: Forming our hearts in true doctrine, so that our actions flow from it, is a journey that requires prayer and the study of God’s revelation, passed on to us through sacred scripture and sacred tradition. The Church, as the universal sacrament, is the extension of Christ’s Incarnation, his presence here on earth. She is also a mother who sets down guidelines for proper moral action grounded in true freedom. To live well the particulars of Church law requires trust in the authority given by Christ to his Church. It also requires assimilating the heart of Christ, so that we strive to love, in the particulars, as he would love, remaining always faithful to the Father.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to grow in my knowledge and love for the teachings of the Church. Grant me true fidelity to your most holy will. Help me to be faithful without putting up boundaries of prejudice toward those who need encouragement to come to you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be attentive to my disposition of charity toward those who hold different beliefs and practices than I do. I will also identify an area of the Church teachings that I need to understand better.
For Further Reflection: Bishop Barron on Evangelizing, https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/homily/how-to-evangelize/21608/.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala