May the peace of Christ Reign in our hearts…
There is probably no group of people that Jesus loved more and that frustrated Jesus more than the Pharisees and the Scribes
Over and over he reached out to them and he tried all kinds of ways to break through, but they simply refused listen to him or welcome him.
Their name means “set apart” and they and the scribes fashioned themselves the special keepers and experts of the Law
The Jews considered the Pentateuch or first five books of the Bible God’s Law…
And in the Pentateuch God presents general outlines by which his people could remain faithful to him and each other
300 Years before Jesus a group immerged called the scribes and they took upon themselves the task of applying the law to everyday life.
They developed a very complex set of rules to help people remain faithful the law
They prescribed how a faithful Jew was to wash you hands
How much water was needed to wash your hands 1 ½ egg shells
What type of containers could become clean and how you had to cleanse them
They taught How much weight could you carry on the Sabbath without breaking it God’s law or how far could you walk without breaking the Sabbath.
These laws became so complex that an industry developed interpreting them for people in everyday circumstances.
People went to scribes to learn how to avoid breaking the law and you had to pay them for their advice
This way of observing the law skewed the people’s understanding of religion and religious practice
Being faithful was no longer about love but about rules, and it became about doing the bare minimum, rather than answering God’s call to love your neighbor
Just think about the story of the good Samaritan…
This exaggerated legalism allowed God’s people in good conscience
to walk by a wounded beaten man without coming to his assistance
The priest walked by and the lawyer walked by because they did not want to touch him and become unclean….
With today’s Gospel
Jesus erased all of these interpretations by declaring that nothing outside of us can make us unclean
This was radical… it abolished centuries of practice
And people nolonger needed to go the the scribes for advice.
It took away the livelihood of a whole class of people.
No wonder the scribes and pharasees hated Jesus so much he took away their power and he took away their salaries.
This new position of Jesus also took away the security of being able to say
I follow the rules so God can’t touch me.
And it forced people to answer God’s call to love rather than hid behind the interpreation of the Scribes.
That’s the first point we need to understand our response to God must not be about just following the rules, rather heartfelt loving response to God and our neighbor
the second point that the Gospel makes is this
Jesus tries to help the people of his time and us understand
That our sins are not found in the manner we wash our hands or what we eat.
Rather all sins begin in our minds and in our heart
This is where all our sins start
And if we want to stop sins we have to stop them there in our minds and in our hearts.
All begin in our minds
And so we have to fight our sins in our minds way before they take on flesh from our actions.
We begin on the road to holiness when we begin to control our thoughts.
By rooting out of our minds all bitterness or angry thoughts
We begin on the road to holiness when we try to look at the good in someone rather than concentrating on the bad
Yes we all know that Being chaste is hard,
we all know being patient is hard,
and we all know that forgiveness is hard
We all know that..
If anyone of you find being chaste, forgiving, and generous are easy let us all in on your secret
And so dear brothers and sisters we can’t find comfort or solace in just following a few rules.
God wants and needs so much more from us.
He needs and wants us to love Him and our neighbor
As St. Augustine said when you really love God and when you really love your neighbor do whatever you want
For Jesus said
Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.
"From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."