COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYPRACTICAL APPLICATIONCATENA AUREALECTORS

22nd Sunday of Year B

CATHOLIC PRODUCTIONS (4:10) – In this intro videoFor the Mass Readings on the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Dr. Brant Pitre discusses how the Pharisees approach Jesus to ask him why his disciples do not follow certain ceremonial laws (like washing their hands before eating). In response, Jesus will reject certain — though not all — human traditions, in particular ones that undermine, supplant, and/or contradict the revealed law in the Old Testament.
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8

Hear the decrees which I am teaching you.

  • For the authors of Deuteronomy, Israel’s tragic situation was the result of its infidelity and disobedience.
  • The solution to Israel’s problem was conversion and obedience.
  • Israel’s greatness lies not in its own strength but in God who remains faithful.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING

James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27

Welcome the word which has taken root in you.

  • The Letter of James encourages us to welcome the word that has been planted in us.
  • We are the first fruit of God’s new creation and thus set apart for God.
  • The evidence of this new life is seen in how we deal with others.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL

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

This people pays me lip service.

  • The Pharisees in today’s Gospel were especially concerned with food laws and purity laws because these were what distinguished Israel from the Gentile nations.
  • Jesus points out that some of the things many Pharisees cling to so tenaciously are human traditions and not the law of God.
  • The more serious matter is God’s command to love one’s neighbor.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.


Dr. Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA

HEARERS OF THE WORD (PDF)

Navarre Bible

SUNDAY COMMENTARY (PDF)

COMMENTARY

Click to access 22-ordinary-time-year-b.pdf

Sources include The Jerome Biblical Commentary, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, and The Navarre Bible. In addition, Church History by Laux (TAN Books), Introduction to the Bible by Laux (TAN Books), A Guide to the Bible by Fuentes (Four Courts Press), and Sharing Our Biblical Story by Russell for background information. We also included quotations from The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 volumes) by Jergens and Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (many volumes) edited by Odum.
SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
Raymond E. Brown

Introduction to the New Testament

TRIALS, TEMPTATIONS, WORDS, DEEDS (JAMES 1:2-27)

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A CONTROVERSY OVER RITUAL PURITY (MK 7:1-23)

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Ave Maria Press

A Catholic Study of God’s Word

THEMES IN JAMES

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Niell Donavan

Sermon Writer

saint louis university

Scripture in Depth

PREACHING THE LECTIONARY by Reginald Fuller

FIRST READING: This passage comes from the prologue to the Deuteronomic law. The prohibition to add or subtract anything was a regular feature of ancient legal codes (cf. the Code of Hammurabi, where, however, the prohibition comes toward the end, not at the beginning as here). The second paragraph underlines the great privilege Israel enjoys through the possession of the law.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Almost the same selection of verses from this psalm is used on the sixteenth Sunday in series C. This is one of the so-called entry psalms, sung by pilgrims as they approached the temple. It describes the character of the pilgrim whom God will accept—a person of justice, sincerity, and integrity.

SECOND READING: For the next five weeks the second reading will be from the so-called Letter of James. Traditionally this letter has been accepted as the work of James the brother of the Lord, though the author simply calls himself  “a servant (slave) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas 1:1).

GOSPEL:  Like so many passages in the Gospel tradition, this pericope has a long and complicated history behind it. To begin with, the parenthesis [or dash] in Mark 7:3-4 is a note by the evangelist for the benefit of his Gentile readers, who were of course unfamiliar with Jewish customs.

RELATED:

  1. THE WORD EMBODIED: Disturbing Words
  2. HISTORICAL CULTURAL CONTEXT: Conflict
  3. THOUGHTS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH: Irenaeus
  4. LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK: Clean Hands, Dirty Hands
  5. SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS: The Heart of the Matter
  6. GLANCING THOUGHTS: Washing Your Hands Before Dinner
  7. THE PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE: Free and Responsible
  8. A POEM TO SIT WITH: Christ Our Earth
Visit liturgy.slu.edu for more resources (e.g PRAYING TOWARD SUNDAY, MUSIC OF SUNDAY, GENERAL INTERCESSIONS) to help you reflect on the spirituality of the scriptures before Mass.

22nd Sunday of Year B

The Human Versus the Divine

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus corrects the Pharisees on their interpretation of what makes one ritually “clean” and fit for worship or ritually “unclean” and a sinner who is unfit to enter into communion with God.  The Pharisees were the most influential religious party in the first century AD.  They were more powerful than the Sadducees who were mostly composed of the chief priests and the Herodian aristocracy.  As the Pharisees expanded their authority over all religious matters in the first century BC, they preached a doctrine that the ritual purity practices required for the priests should also apply for the covenant people.  They added their own rules for religious customs to the Mosaic Law, making the Law more of a burden for the people and less of a tutor and a guide for holiness.  Jesus chastises them for their hypocritical hard hearts and for their rigid interpretation of the Law that lost the concept of God’s mercy and the joyful practice of right religion that is the path to salvation.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

FIRST READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Obedience and Wisdom of God’s Law

Meditating on the Law in the First Reading, Moses saw the danger of human interpretation developing into added traditions that could obscure the original will of God for His people.  That is why the people of God needed one central authority to interpret the spirit of the Law as God intended, and to maintain the authoritative voice of God in the command: “you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it” (Dt 4:2).  Jesus repeats the same command at the end of the last chapter of the last book of the Bible where He says: “I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book” (Rev 22:18-19).   That is why St. Peter wrote: At the same time, we must recognize that the interpretation of scriptural prophecy is never a matter for the individual (2 Pt 1:20).  The authority Jesus established to interpret the of the Word of God is His Kingdom of the Church.

COMMENTARY

When Moses returned from his experience in the presence of God on Mt. Sinai, he brought back more than the two tablets of the Law engraved by the finger of God (Ex 24:18; 32:15-16; 34:28-29).  He also received the divine authority to teach the word of God to the people.  Some of what he received, he wrote down in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  However, other commands were not written down but passed on as an oral tradition to Aaron the High Priest and the other chief priests.  At the end of the forty years in the wilderness, it was with this divinely ordained teaching authority that he addressed the new generation of the children of Israel poised to march forward to take possession of the Promised Land of Canaan in his last three homilies in the Book of Deuteronomy.  Today’s First Reading is from the first of Moses’ last three homilies to the new generation of the children of Israel about to take possession of the Promised Land of Canaan as God’s holy warriors.

Moses’ appeal Shema Israel, “Hear Israel” (or in this case Israel Shema in 4:1) is characteristic of the beginning of a didactic address in Deuteronomy (see 4:1; 5:1; 6:4; 9:1; 20:3 and 27:9).  In this verse, the Hebrew verb “to teach” or “to instruct” appears for the first time in the Pentateuch (Weinfeld, The Book of Deuteronomy, page 200). The use of the verb “to teach/instruct” in Deuteronomy 4:1 illustrates Moses’ mission to as Israel’s first “teacher of the Law.”  Lawgiver and covenant mediator are the roles for which Jewish tradition remembers Moses.  In the Second Temple period (during the time Jesus lived), the teaching authority of the hierarchy of the Old Covenant Church was referred to as “the chair of Moses,” just as the teaching authority of the New Covenant Church is called “the chair of Peter” (see Mt 23:2).

Moses taught the children of Israel that obedience to God’s commandments is the path to life.  It is the central theme of this part of Moses’ homily that begins in verse 1 and ends in verse 40 with the statement that life for Israel depends on obedience to God’s commandments (also see Dt 30:15-20).  English translations often translate the Hebrew word torah as “law.”  However, from the prime root horah, “to teach,” a more accurately translation is “teaching” or “instruction” (see Dt 1:5; 4:8, 44; 17:18, 19; 27:3, 8, 26; 28:58; 29:28; 31:9, 11, 12, 24; 32:46.  The commandments and prohibitions of the Law of God are not intended to be merely read or memorized; one must live out the commands by doing them.  The Israelites must put into practice what Moses taught concerning the commands and prohibitions of the Law so they may survive [live] to enter and take possession of the country which Yahweh, God of your ancestors, is giving you (4:1).  Moses repeats the command to “do” a significant seven times.  In the significance of numbers in Scripture, seven is the number of fullness, completeness, and spiritual perfection (Dt 4:1, 5, 6, 13, 14; 5:1; and 6:1).

The promise that to live in obedience to God’s law brings life to the believer is the same promise for New Covenant believers. The difference is that Jesus promises us to live in obedience to the law of the New Covenant brings eternal life and not merely God’s protection in temporal blessings as under the Old Covenant (Lev 26:3-13; Dt 28:1-14).  In Jesus’ homily at the Last Supper, He said: “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15), and St. John wrote: The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.  Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But the whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.  This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live just as he lived (1 Jn 2:3-6).

2 In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to which I command you nor subtract from it.

The warning to guard the Sacred Word of God and not to add or take away from Yahweh’s commands and prohibitions is the language of covenant treaties.  The Book of Deuteronomy is a renewal of the covenant treaty with Israel at Mt. Sinai extended to the new generation of the children of Israel after the judgment of forty years in the wilderness (Num 14:26-35).  See the document “The Covenant Treaty in Sacred Scripture” and “The Covenant Treaty Format of the Old and New Testaments.”

The command not to add or subtract from the Sacred Word appears in five Scripture passages:

  1. At the beginning of Moses’ commentary on the observances of the covenant treaty between Yahweh and Israel at Mt. Sinai, the Lord warned Moses not to add or detract from His commands in Deuteronomy 4:2.
  2. Yahweh told the Prophet Jeremiah to speak to the people at the Temple and only to say what Yahweh commanded, “omitting not one syllable” in the covenant lawsuit against an apostate people in Jeremiah 26:2.
  3. The warning not to tamper with the words of God in Proverbs 30:5-6.
  4. The warning not to add or subtract from the account of God’s works in Ecclesiastes 3:14.
  5. The final command appears at the end of the body of Sacred Scripture in the Book of Revelation.  The Book of Revelation is the covenant lawsuit against the generation that rejected the Messiah, and it is the formation of the new covenant document with the restored Israel of the New Covenant Church with the same warning in Revelation 22:18-19.

In other words, those who profess loyalty to Yahweh in a covenant relationship cannot practice religion and worship according to their understanding.

6 Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’  7 For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?  8 Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”

In addition to life, God promises His covenant people they will be blessed with wisdom if they keep His laws by putting them into practice in the Promised Land.  And, if future generations of Israelites continue to live according to God’s laws, commands, and prohibitions, they will win the admiration of the surrounding Gentile nations for their wisdom and prudence

Yahweh’s Covenant Treaty with the children of Israel as His vassal people set them apart as His “firstborn” sons among the nations of the earth (Ex 4:22).  Israel enjoyed a unique position among the Gentile nations for three reasons:

  1. The wisdom imparted to Israel through God’s divine Law (verse 6).
  2. Israel’s proximity to her extraordinary God whose Divine Presence dwelled among His people (verse 7).
  3. The unique Laws He gave Israel to bind her to Him as His covenant people (verse 8).

All these gifts and blessings continue to be ours in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus, so long as we remain obedient to His Kingdom of the Church which is the vehicle Jesus established with authority to guide us on our journey to our eternal blessings in Heaven.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Practicing God’s Justice

Response: The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

In the Psalm Reading, the psalmist urges worshippers to repent all temptations to sin and right any wrongs against others before entering the presence of God in the liturgy of worship.  Each worshiper must demonstrate the rightness of heart and conduct to separate himself from sin.  A holy God deserves a holy people.  The psalmist assures the faithful who repent their sins and live in harmony with others of God’s forgiveness, as we affirm as a community in our response: “The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.”

Psalm 15 is a psalm attributed to David, king of Israel and Jesus’ ancestor (Mt 1:1; Lk 1:32-33).  In verse 1, the psalmist asks the question: Lord, who may abide in your tent?  Who may dwell on your holy mountain?  In verses 2-5, the psalmist answers his own question by offering what he believes is a necessary examination of conscience at the entrance to the Temple court.  The worshipper must ask what conduct he has demonstrated that is appropriate for admission in God’s holy precincts.  Notice that the emphasis is on virtues relating to love of neighbor:

  1. One who practices justice (verse 2)
  2. One who refrains from slandering or doing harm to another (verse 2b-3)
  3. One who avoids the wicked (verse 4a)
  4. One who keeps company with those who revere the Lord (verse 4b)
  5. One who does not practice taking advantage by charging interest for lending money and does not accept bribes (verse 5a)

Such a person has demonstrated the rightness of heart and conduct to separate him or herself from human sin to take part in worshipping the One True God by offering his or her life as an unblemished sacrifice.  It is an examination of conduct and conscience St. Paul urges all Christians to practice before entering the holy inner court of the Mass that is the celebration of the Eucharist.  Paul wrote to the Christians of Corinth: Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.  A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body [of Christ], eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor 11:26-32).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

SECOND READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Act in Response to God’s Divine Word

In the Second Reading, St. James the Just writes that God set the universe in motion and gave the plants and stars their celestial paths.  But unlike the heavenly bodies which alter their positions with the changing seasons and cast different shadows, there is no variation in God.  God is constant and unchanging through eternity.  Therefore, we can depend on God to do what is right for us, as He calls us to demonstrate our faith in Him through obedience to His command to do right by our brothers and sisters in the human family.  In his letter to the universal Church, St. James urged all Christians to live in imitation of Christ by being “doers and not just hearers of the word.”

COMMENTARY
 

In verse 17, St. James the Just, the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem, affirms Jesus statement in Matthew 7:11 that your heavenly Father gives “good things” to His children.  James compares the physical lights created by God in the cosmos (Gen 1:14-18) with the Lord God who is the source of spiritual light and of everything that is beneficial.  In the spiritual sense, “light” is holiness and truth while “darkness” symbolizes what is evil and debase:

  • John 8:12 ~ When Jesus spoke to the people again, he said: “I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark but will have the light of life.”
  • 1 Peter 2:9 ~ But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
  • 1 John 1:5b ~ God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

God created the universe and gave the plants and stars their paths and shadows, which change in accord with their seasonal celestial motion.  But unlike the heavenly bodies, there is no variation in God.  God is constant and unchanging through all eternity (Ps 118:1; Heb 13:8; Jn 1:1-5).

  • Psalm 118:1 ~ Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for his faithful love endures forever (NJB)
  • Hebrews 13:8 ~ Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be forever.
  • John 1:2-3 ~ He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.

18 He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of Firstfruits of his creatures.

The “word of truth” is the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which God revealed His plan of salvation for humanity.  That message of truth is also the Living Word, Jesus Himself (Jn 14:6), through whom a faithful remnant of the old Israel and all New Covenant Christians have been reborn into the family of God through the Sacrament of Baptism in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ our Savior (CCC# 1686841214-15).

James refers to the Christians of his generation as “a kind of Firstfruits” God’s creatures.  The 1st century AD Jews like St. James who embraced Jesus as the promised Redeemer-Messiah became the first harvest of His new creation.  The other generation of Israelites called the “firstfruits” was the Exodus generation.  The night of the Passover in Egypt, God redeemed the firstborn sons of Israel with the blood of a sacrificial lamb or goat kid (Ex Chapter 12).  The Israelites of the Exodus generation were the firstfruits of Yahweh’s covenant with Israel and the holy priesthood of the firstborn of the Old Covenant Church.  In the same way, the blood of Jesus Christ redeemed the first of the Jews of His generation to come into the New Covenant, making them the firstfruits of the great human harvest gathered into God’s great “storehouse” that is Heaven.

21b humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.  22 Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

James writes that we are deluding ourselves if we think that only believing in Christ is enough.  He points out that even the demons believed Jesus was the Son of God (i.e., Mt 4:3, 6; 8:29; Jam 2:19).  Jesus asks for a living and active faith, and James affirms this teaching when he writes: For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (Jam 2:26).

In St. Bede’s commentary on St. James’ letter, he warns Christians that the first requirement for doing what is good is to confess one’s sins and to turn away from evil.  The Bede advises that no one upon whom sin has a hold can ever expect to be an effective conduit for the holy works of God to flow through him and out to the world.  To humbly welcome the living Word, the Christian must submit himself to God by admitting poverty of spirit; by mourning his sins; and by yielding himself meekly into the hands of the Master, fulfilling the first three blessings of the New Covenant Law with which Jesus began His Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (see Mt 5:1-4).  Christian faith is pro-active, not static.  Active faith was the theme of Jesus’ homily when he compared the Christian to light and salt in Matthew 5:13-16.  Each is only good if it serves the purpose for which it was created; the same is true for a Christian.  Jesus said, “In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16).

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The word “religion” is from the Latin word religare, meaning to tie, fasten, bind, or gather up.  Religion is the moral virtue by which a person is disposed to give to God the worship, obedience, and service He deserves.  James defines the right exercise of religion as coming to the help of orphans and widows and living in holiness and righteousness before God.  As Christians, we are in the world but not part of the world, which means we must avoid being influenced by the world’s value system.

St. James chooses widows and orphans as his example of those most in need of assistance because, in the 1st century AD, no other group of people was so utterly defenseless.  The Old Testament mentions widows and orphans as deserving of special protection (Dt 27:19; Ps 68:5; 146:9), and they were the first concern of the New Covenant Church (Acts 6:1ff, in 9:39, and to St. Paul in 1 Tim 5:3ff).

Bound in the divine Blood of Christ, the Church is a family of believers, and like any family, we have the responsibility to love and care for each other.  We also are expected to extend that demonstration of love to those outside the faith community, because Jesus loved and suffered for them as well as for those of us who already belong to Him.  We must love as He loves, and that means love without boundaries.  Loving in this way, St. James tells the faithful, is the exercise of true religion.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

GOSPEL

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

The Tradition of the Elders and the Parable of Clean and Unclean

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus corrects the Pharisees on their interpretation of what makes one ritually “clean” and fit for worship or ritually “unclean” and a sinner who is unfit to enter into communion with God.  The Pharisees were the most influential religious party in the first century AD.  They were more powerful than the Sadducees who were mostly composed of the chief priests and the Herodian aristocracy.  As the Pharisees expanded their authority over all religious matters in the first century BC, they preached a doctrine that the ritual purity practices required for the priests should also apply for the covenant people.  They added their own rules for religious customs to the Mosaic Law, making the Law more of a burden for the people and less of a tutor and a guide for holiness.  Jesus chastises them for their hypocritical hard hearts and for their rigid interpretation of the Law that lost the concept of God’s mercy and the joyful practice of right religion that is the path to salvation.

COMMENTARY

The Temple hierarchy in Jerusalem sent their representatives to examine Jesus in the same way they sent others to question John the Baptist (Jn 1:19-20).  The “traditions of the elders” they refer to in verse 5 are the religious practices that the Pharisees and elders added to the written Mosaic Law of the Torah and the Oral Tradition received by Moses and his brother Aaron, Israel’s first covenant mediator and his brother the first High Priest who had the final word on the right practice of religion.

2 they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals [artos/bread] with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.  3 For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders.  4 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.

As they expanded their authority over all religious matters in the 1st century BC, the Pharisees began to preach the doctrine that priestly ritual purity practices should apply to all the covenant people.  They added their interpretation of religious customs to the Mosaic Law, making the Law more of a burden for the people and less of a tutor and a guide.  Certain traditions which included the ritual of Temple worship were part of a sacred Tradition that was only passed on orally by the chief priests and Levites until the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70.  After that time, the surviving priests recorded the oral traditions in the Jewish Mishnah in circa AD 200.  In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees had added to the oral Tradition their interpretation that made rigid observance of the Law more important than mercy.

5 So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal [artos] with unclean hands?”

The Pharisees are not charging Jesus and His disciples with poor hygiene but with a flagrant disregard for religious observances of the Law.

6 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.’  8 You disregard God’s commandments but cling to human tradition.”

Jesus responds to their attack by calling them hypocrites (a Greek word that refers to one in a Greek drama who plays a part) and quoting from Isaiah 29:13 LXX (Greek translation).  In that passage, the prophet Isaiah chastised the people of Jerusalem for ignoring God’s word delivered by His holy prophets and paying more attention to human precepts and the letter rather than the spirit of the Law.  During His last day of teaching in Jerusalem before His arrest, Jesus will accuse the Pharisees of manipulating the Law to suit their interests.  He will condemn them as hypocrites and will use even stronger language, calling them “serpents” and “a brood of vipers” (meaning children of Satan) in a covenant lawsuit composed of seven curse judgments (Mt 23:1-36).

14 He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.  15 Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

The little Parable of Clean and Unclean in verses 14-15 is Jesus’ 7th parable in St. Mark’s Gospel.  In teaching this parable, Jesus will do away with the ritual purity laws associated with clean and unclean foods (Lev Chapter 11).  The foods designated “clean” and “unclean” were meant to separate the Israelites from their pagan neighbors and to remind the Israelites that were a pure and holy people dedicated to a pure and holy God (Lev 11:44-45).  The food restrictions were the first of the ritual commandments of the Sinai Covenant that Jesus changed.  The old Law defined ritual defilement as an external condition that signified an internal state, but the New Covenant penetrates the heart of the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse and govern the inward life of the believer.  Jesus’ teaching is the beginning of the end of the separation between Jew and Gentile, both fully welcomed into the New Covenant.

21 From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.

In the language of the Bible, the “heart” is the moral center of the person and the source of every decision that manifests itself through the person’s actions.  The point of Jesus’ parable is that true defilement comes from the thoughts and actions of a person and not from the foods he consumes. Jesus gives a list of thirteen actions/sins that defile a person in verses 21-22:

  1. Evil thoughts (the sin starts as a thought before becoming an action)
  2. Unchastity (lack of modesty in appearance and behavior)
  3. Theft
  4. Murder
  5. Adultery
  6. Greed
  7. Malice (intent to inflict harm on someone physically or emotionally)
  8. Deceit
  9. Licentiousness (not restrained by law or morality)
  10. Envy
  11. Blasphemy (abuse of the Divine Name of God)
  12. Arrogance (excessive pride and lack of respect for others)
  13. Folly (unwise conduct)

23 All these evils come from within and they defile.

Jesus says that sin begins as a thought that becomes an action.  He urges us to turn away from temptation, banish evil thoughts, and resist imperfect human responses.  We must replace those temptations to sin with the truth and righteousness of the Word and the actions of one who has been reborn into the family of a divine Father.  Then, our words and deeds will reflect our commitment to holiness in a life that will be pleasing to God.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

22nd Sunday of Year B

FIRST READING

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

The Ways of an Infinite God

Job 38:8
“Who decreed the boundaries of the seas when they gushed from the depths? Who clothed them with clouds and thick darkness

New Living Translation (Hover cursor above the scripture reference to read the NRSV version)

JOB 38:2–39:30 God used a series of questions to illustrate how little Job knew about creation and God’s ways. If Job knew nothing of these mysteries, how could he know anything about God’s character? All Job could do was worship and trust God.

We, too, wonder why we suffer. We wonder why bad things happen to us and those we love. But like Job, we are finite and cannot understand the ways of our infinite God. All we can do is praise him and await his deliverance.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Care of Responsible Shepherds

Jeremiah 23:4
Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD, have spoken!

JER 23:1-4 Shepherds—the leaders of God’s people—who were supposed to care for God’s “sheep” had scattered and forsaken them. Since Judah’s leaders had led God’s people astray, God promised to punish the leaders and gather his people “back to their own sheepfold.” He vowed to place them in the care of responsible shepherds who would love and tend them. Jesus is our good shepherd, loving us and tending us as his flock (see John 10:1-18).

If we are willing to seek out and follow his will for our life, there is hope for us, no matter how far we may have strayed.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

God’s Directions are Not to be Tampered With

Deuteronomy 4:2 NLT
Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you.

DEUTERONOMY4:2 God’s directions are not to be tampered with. It is tempting to add to or take away from God’s provisions. But if we are to have victory, we must accept God’s way—as it is, not as we might wish it to be. These requirements were offered for Israel’s guidance; they were a gracious provision of God’s love. God, through his Word and loving presence in our life, also provides us with all we need to live with fulfillment and contentment.

Each day we make a decision whom we will serve, either God or this world. What a wonderful experience to be able to firmly assert that you will serve only the Lord!

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
THE PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

The Difference that Would Draw Others to God

Moses made two deductions about the law that was given to Israel.

DEUTERONOMY 4:5-8 The law and obedience to it are required to make Israel morally and spiritually unique among all other nations. Israel’s strength would not be in military might or human skills. Other nations not comprehending the beauty of obedience would marvel at Israel’s wisdom and understanding. It was not by learned discussion or arguments that their wisdom was to be displayed but by childlike, unquestioning obedience. All the wisdom was in the statutes and judgments of God, not in their own thoughts or reasonings (vv. 5–6). The profound and marvelous providence of God as revealed in His Word was what the nations were to see and admire.

Moses made two deductions about the law that was given to Israel (vv. 7–8). First, God’s law given to Israel pointed to an intimate relationship between Him and the descendants of Abraham. This type of kinship existed in no other religion. Second, God’s law, which surpassed all other laws in righteousness, should be the pride of Israel. Obedience to this great law was Israel’s only hope for success and for the drawing of other nations to God.

Forty-two times in the Bible we read that the blessings of God are contingent on our obedience. One of the many examples is Psalm 25:10. “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, / To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Too many Christians use the “dip and skip” method of Christian living. They dip into His promises and skip His commands. This type of living did not please God in the day of Moses and it does not please Him now.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Essential Elements of Any Personal Inventory

Psalm 15:1 NLT
Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

PSALM 15:1-3 If we want to experience recovery, we must be committed to honesty, integrity, and right living. We must quit lying to ourself and to others, and we must stop doing things that hurt other people. These are all essential elements of any effective personal inventory if we hope to bring reconciliation to our relationships.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
THE PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

Prescription for Life

This psalm begins with life’s critical issue: who may “abide” in God’s tent and “dwell” in His holy hill?

PSALM 15:1-5  In a famous debate between theologians Paul Tillich and Karl Barth, Tillich claimed that our theology should be an “answering theology.” This means that the world asks the questions which theology then answers. For Tillich the issue was one of relevance. Psychologists teach us that we should address “felt needs.” Barth, however, replied No, and he went on to say that the world doesn’t know the right questions to ask. God must reveal the questions as well as the answers. Here in Psalm 15 God reveals the right questions and the right answers. This psalm begins with life’s critical issue: who may “abide” in God’s tent and “dwell” in His holy hill?

Psalm 15 is a didactic wisdom poem establishing guidelines for living that will usher us into God’s presence. It covers our walk, our works, and our words (v. 2). While the psalm could be interpreted legalistically, this would be wrong. The psalmist is concerned with our attitude, not just our action. As C. S. Lewis points out in The Great Divorce, through out our lives we are either growing closer to God or further from Him. This psalm is a directive into His presence.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.

SECOND READING

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Who or What is in Control of Our Life?

James 1:4 NLT
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James1:19-20 Who or what is in control of our life? Is it God? Is it other people? Is it a controlling dependency or compulsion or an overpowering emotion? The issue of control is vital to our spiritual growth and recovery. For some of us, the emotion of anger is overpowering. James advises us to listen before we speak, to have self-control, and to be patient, not letting anger control our actions in any situation. We may be angry over our past as well as over current events. To control our anger, we need to give our life over to God. Even when we feel out of control, he can help us maintain our composure. He can give us the strength and wisdom to think and listen before we speak or act.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
AFRICA STUDY BIBLE

Who Am I?

The Bible—God’s mirror—reveals our true person, our origin, our past, our present, and our future.

JAMES 1:17-27 The Hausa people of northern Nigeria have a story about a cattle dealer who went down south to sell some cattle. He made a lot of money. On his way home, however, he got into the company of some robbers who tricked him into drinking a drugged beverage when they stopped for lunch. He fell asleep, and the robbers took all his money, shaved his head clean, and left. When the dealer woke up, he was all alone. His mind went immediately to his money, so he touched his pockets to see if the money was there. When he realised his pockets were empty, he put his hands on his head, preparing to cry out in distress. He discovered that there was no hair on his head, so he paused, nodded, and said, “Aha! I certainly know I am not the one who was robbed!”

Of course, trying to assure himself that he was not the one was a form of denial due to his distress at his great loss of money. James tells us that the one who hears the Word of God and does not do it is like the person who looks into a mirror but forgets who he is as soon as he turns away (James 1:23-24).

The Bible—God’s mirror—reveals our true person, our origin, our past, our present, and our future. When we look into the Word, we must not go away without allowing the Word to change us. There is nothing that is as powerful to transform our lives as the Bible. We must put into practice the principles of God’s Word. Merely repeating the Bible or even memorizing it gets us only halfway there. Obeying God’s Word brings true change. When you read a passage, ask what God would have you do in response.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THE AFRICA STUDY BIBLE

GOSPEL

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

The Root of Our Problems

Mark 7:21 NLT
For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,

MARK 7:14-23  Jesus explained that defilement does not come from our external behavior, but that it comes from within our heart. Most of us have tried to control our dependency by changing various aspects of our external behavior. The fact that this never worked for long is clear evidence that our real problems lie within. We should find it encouraging that God goes right to the root of our problems; he works his healing from the inside out. By recognizing our need for internal healing, we open our life to God’s healing power.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL

Featured Commentaries

Mark: Prelude to the Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:33-34)

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Exalting Jesus in Mark (Chr… by Juan Carlos Herrera

Mark: A Reader-Response Commentary - The Apostles look for a Quiet Place (6.30-34)

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Mark Commentary by Oscar Cabrera

Mark: A Theme Based Approach - Testimony of Three Miracles
SOURCE: Made available through SCRIBD. All rights reserved.
AFRICA STUDY BIBLE

Words and Deeds

Our behaviour must line up with our words so that we are not guilty of hypocrisy.

MARK 7:1-23 – A well-known Egyptian proverb translates to say, “When I hear your talk, I believe you, but when I see your behaviour, I wonder.” This proverb is used when someone’s behaviour contradicts his words.

Jesus reminded the Pharisees and teachers of Israel of Isaiah’s words: “These people … honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13). Jesus said these words applied in his day as well. Behaviour is a good indicator of what is in the heart. If hypocrisy is rejected and hated by people, how will it be judged by God? Our behaviour must line up with our words so that we are not guilty of hypocrisy.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THE AFRICA STUDY BIBLE
FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS

Hypocrisy

One of Jesus’ most radical statements concerning purity

MARK 7:1-23 In verses 18–19, we come up against one of Jesus’ most radical statements concerning purity: “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile?” With these words Jesus calls into question the rationale behind the entire Levitical structure of dietary laws and regulations. In so doing, he locates the roots of impurity, and hence of sin, where they belong: within the mind, the heart, and the soul. Appearances, he argues, external factors, conditions, and influences count for nothing. As Robert Burns once put it:

The heart ay’s the part ay
That makes us right or wrang.

Pure or impure? Clean or unclean? It is not a matter of ritual observance or of outward appearance, but of what is going on deep inside a person. Of that, in the last resort, only God can be the judge. Perhaps John Milton put it best of all:

For neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone.

SOURCE: EXCERPT taken from FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS—MARK. All rights reserved.

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MARK 7:1-13

1. Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the Scribes, which came from Jerusalem.

2. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.

3. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

4. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

5. Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

6. He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

8. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

9. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

10. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

11. But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

12. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

13. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

ANNOTATED INDEX

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

COMMENTARY

BEDE. (in Marc. 2, 29) The people of the land of Gennesareth, who seemed to be unlearned men, not only come themselves, but also bring their sick to the Lord, that they may but succeed in touching the hem of His garment. But the Pharisees and Scribes, who ought to have been the teachers of the people, run together to the Lord, not to seek for healing, but to move captious questions; wherefore it is said, Then there came together unto him the Pharisees and cerlain of the Scribes, coming from Jerusalem; and when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with common, that is, with unwashen hands, they found fault.

THEOPHYLACT. For the disciples of the Lord, who were taught only the practice of virtue, used to eat in a simple way, without washing their hands; but the Pharisees, wishing to find an occasion of blame against them, took it up; they did not indeed blame them as transgressors of the law, but for transgressing the traditions of the elders. Wherefore it goes on: For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For taking the spiritual words of the Prophets in a carnal sense, they observed, by washing the body alone, commandments which concerned the chastening of the heart and deeds, saying Wash you, make you clean; (Isa. 1:16) and again, Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. (Isa. 52:11) It is therefore a superstitious human tradition, that men who are clean already, should wash oftener because they eat bread, and that they should not eat on leaving the market, without washing. But it is necessary for those who desire to partake of the bread which comes down from heaven, often to cleanse their evil deeds by alms, by tears, and the other fruits of righteousness. It is also necessary for a man to wash thoroughly away the pollutions which he has contracted from the cares of temporal business, by being afterwards intent on good thoughts and works. In vain, however, do the Jews wash their hands, and cleanse themselves after the market, so long as they refuse to be washed in the font of the Saviour; in vain do they observe the washing of their vessels, who neglect to wash away the filthy sins of their bodies and of their hearts. It goes on: Then the Scribes and Pharisees asked him, Why walk not thy disciples after the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with common hands?

JEROME. (in Matt. 15) Wonderful is the folly of the Pharisees and Scribes; they accuse the Son of God, because He keeps not the traditions and precepts of men. But common is here put for unclean; for the people of the Jews, boasting that they were the portion of God, called those meats common, which all made use of.

PSEUDO-JEROME. He beats back the vain words of the Pharisees with His arguments, as men drive back dogs with weapons, by interpreting Moses and Isaiah, that we too by the word of Scripture may conquer the heretics, who oppose us; wherefore it goes on: (Isa. 29:13) Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites; as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) For since they unjustly accused the disciples not of transgressing the law, but the commands of the elders, He sharply confounds them, calling them hypocrites, as looking with reverence upon what was not worthy of it. He adds, however, the words of Isaiah the prophet, as spoken of them; as though He would say, As those men, of whom it is said, that they honour God with their lips, whilst their heart is far from him, in vain pretend to observe the dictates of piety, whilst they honour the doctrines of men, so ye also neglect your soul, of which ye should take care, and blame those who live justly.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But Pharisaical tradition, as to tables and vessels, is to be cut off, and cast away. For they often make the commands of God yield to the traditions of men; wherefore it continues, For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold to the traditions of men, as the washing of pots and cups.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Moreover, to convict them of neglecting the reverence due to God, for the sake of the tradition of the elders, which was opposed to the Holy Scriptures, He subjoins, For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death. (Exod. 21:17.)

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The sense of the word honour in Scripture is not so much the saluting and paying court to men, as alms-giving, and bestowing gifts; honour, says the Apostle, widows who are widows indeed. (1 Tim. 5:3.)

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Notwithstanding the existence of such a divine law, and the1 threats against such as break it, ye lightly transgress the commandment of God, observing the traditions of the Elders. Wherefore there follows, But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; understand, he will be freed from the observation of the foregoing command. Wherefore it continues, And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother.

THEOPHYLACT. For the Pharisees, wishing to devour the offerings, instructed sons, when their parents asked for some of their property, to answer them, what thou hast asked of me is corban, that is, a gift, I have already offered it up to the Lord; thus the parents would not require it, as being offered up to the Lord,z (and in that way profitable for their own salvation). Thus they deceived the sons into neglecting their parents, whilst they themselves devoured the offerings; with this therefore the Lord reproaches them, as transgressing the law of God for the sake of gain. Wherefore it goes on, Making the word of God of none effect through your traditions, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye; transgressing, that is, the commands of God, that ye may observe the traditions of men.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else it may be said, that the Pharisees taught young persons, that if a man offered a gift in expiation of the injury done to his father or mother, he was free from sin, as having given to God the gifts which are owed to a parent; and in saying this, they did not allow parents to be honoured.

BEDE. (ubi sup. v. Hier. in Matt. 15. et Orig. in Matt. Tom. xi. 9) The passage may in a few words have this sense, Every gift which I have to make, will go to do you good; for ye compel children, it is meant, to say to their parents, that gift which I was going to offer to God, I expend on feeding you, and does you good, oh father and mother, speaking this ironically. Thus they would be afraid to accept what had been given into the hands of God, and might prefer a life of poverty to living on consecrated property.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Mystically, again, the disciples eating with unwashed hands signifies the future fellowship of the Gentiles with the Apostles. The cleansing and washing of the Pharisees is barren; but the fellowship of the Apostles, though without washing, has stretched out its branches as far as the sea.

MARK 7:14-23

14. And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:

15. There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

16. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

17. And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

18. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

19. Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

20. And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22. Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

COMMENTARY

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The Jews regard and murmur about only the bodily purification of the law; our Lord wishes to bring in the contrary. Wherefore it is said, And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one, and understand; there is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him, but the things which come out of a man, those are they which defile a man; that is, which make him unclean. The things of Christ have relation to the inner man, but those which are of the law are visible and external, to which, as being bodily, the cross of Christ was shortly to put an end.

THEOPHYLACT. But the intention of the Lord in saying this was to teach men, that the observing of meats, which the law commands, should not be taken in a carnal sense, and from this He began to unfold to them the intent of the law.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Again He subjoins, If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. For He had not clearly shewn them, what those things are which proceed out of a man, and defile a man; and on account of this saying, the Apostles thought that the foregoing discourse of the Lord implied some other deep thing; wherefore there follows: And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable; they called it parable, because it was not clear.

THEOPHYLACT. The Lord begins by chiding them, wherefore there follows, Are ye so without understanding also?

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For that man is a faulty hearer who considers what is obscure to be a clear speech, or what is clear to be obscurely spoken.

THEOPHYLACT. Then the Lord shews them what was hidden, saying, Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot make him common?

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the Jews, boasting themselves to be the portion of God, call common those meats which all men use, as shellfish, hares, and animals of that sort. Not even however what is offered to idols is unclean, in as far as it is food and God’s creature; it is the invocation of devils which makes it unclean; and He adds the cause of it, saying, Because it entereth not into his heart. The principal seat of the soul according to Plato is the brain, but according to Christ, it is in the heart.

GLOSS.a It says therefore into his heart, that is, into his mind, which is the principal part of his soul, on which his whole life depends; wherefore it is necessary, that according to the state of his heart a man should be called clean or unclean, and thus whatsoever does not reach the soul, cannot bring pollution to the man. Meats therefore, since they do not reach the soul, cannot in their own nature defile a man; but an inordinate use of meats, which proceeds from a want of order in the mind, makes men unclean. But that meats cannot reach the mind, He shews by that which He adds, saying, But into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats. This however He says, without referring to what remains from the food in the body, for that which is necessary for the nourishment and growth of the body remains. But that which is superfluous goes out, and thus as it were purges the nourishment, which remains.

AUGUSTINE. (Lib. oct. Quæs. 73) For some things are joined to others in such a way as both to change and be changed, just as food, losing its former appearance, is both itself turned into our body, and we too are changed, and our strength is refreshed by it.b Further, a most subtle liquid, after the food has been prepared and digested in our veins, and other arteries, by some hidden channels, called from a Greek word, pores, passes through us, and goes into the draught.

BEDE. Thus then it is not meat that makes men unclean, but wickedness, which works in us the passions which come from within; wherefore it goes on: And he said, That which cometh out of a man, that defileth a man.

GLOSS. (non occ.) The meaning of which He points out, when He subjoins, for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts. And thus it appears that evil thoughts belong to the mind, which is here called the heart, and according to which a man is called good or bad, clean or unclean.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) From this passage are condemned those men who suppose that thoughts are put into them by the devil, and do not arise from their own evil will. The devil may excite and help on evil thoughts, he cannot be their author.

GLOSS. (non in Gloss. sed v. de Lyra in loc.) From evil thoughts, however, evil actions proceed to greater lengths, concerning which it is added, adulteries, that is, acts which consist in the violation of another man’s bed; fornications, which are unlawful connexions between persons, not bound by marriage; murders, by which hurt is inflicted on the person of one’s neighbour; thefts, by which his goods are taken from him; covetousness, by which things are unjustly kept; wickedness, which consists in calumniating others; deceit, in overreaching them; lasciviousness, to which belongs any corruption of mind or body.

THEOPHYLACT. An evil eye, that is, hatred and flattery, for he who hates turns an evil and envious eye on him whom he hates, and a flatterer, looking askance at his neighbour’s goods, leads him into evil; blasphemies, that is, faults committed against God; pride, that is, contempt of God, when a man ascribes the good, which he does, not to God, but to his own virtue; foolishness, that is, an injury against one’s neighbour.

GLOSS. (non occ. sed v. Summa 2, 2. Qu. 46. 1. et 1, 2. Qu. 1, 1) Or, foolishness consists in wrong thoughts concerning God; for it is opposed to wisdom, which is the knowledge of divine things. It goes on, All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. For whatsoever is in the power of a man, is imputed to him as a fault, because all such things proceed from the interior will, by which man is master of his own actions.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

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