Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

Clean and Unclean
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"

He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 5Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.'

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' or from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "(Mark 7:1-23)

Jesus was telling his disciples that to be clean means to have a heart that is loving. I think sometime we, too, get caught up in our own religious rituals without giving any thought as to why we are doing them. Do we meet God in these rituals? Or, is it just something we have been told to do. Do we perform these rituals with joy? Or, are we doing them for worldly acclaim?
Basically, I think that Jesus was telling us that if our heart is not in the religious rituals they don't mean much. If we don't care for one another and love one another, all the rituals in the world will not make us clean. It is something to think about, especially during this season of Lent. We need to reflect on our lives. What are we doing? Are we performing mindless rituals, or are we really in touch with the will of God. Are we developing our relationship with God or are we just going through the motions? Talk to God today. Ask God what he wants you to do.
Then listen for the answer. There will be one.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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