Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands,[a] thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it;[b] and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.[c]) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live[d] according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God[e])— 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”-Mark 7:1-13 NRSV
Jesus Calls Out Hypocrites
This Gospel reading should be a word of caution to all of us. Jesus calls out the Pharisees on their hypocritical behavior. They saw the disciples eating without going through the proper ritual washing. This was an opportunity for them to try to entrap Jesus.
He does not fall for it.
Instead he turns the tables. The ritual washing that the Pharisees are speaking of is traced back to Exodus 30:19. However, this only called for the washing of hands and feet before entering the tent of meeting, or the Temple, for service. The ritual that Jesus called out developed over time and essentially a tradition of men.
Pharisees And Corban
Jesus goes for the jugular to prove what hypocrites the Pharisees were being. They were ignoring the command of God to honor their father and mother. Instead of taking care of them in their old age, they allowed their parents to slip into poverty when they were no longer able to work.
They did so by saying that their wealth was corban. Corban was dedicating one’s wealth the the service of the temple. The problem is that the Temple took really good care of the Pharisees. As they lived a life of luxury through a loophole that was not a command from God, they’re parents struggles for basic needs.
They were thinking of only themselves, and not of honoring God.
What About Us?
As I was pondering over this passage this morning I was thinking about events in my life. How many times have we done something similar? Have we ignored the pleas of the poor and minutes later were eating a steak in a great steakhouse? Maybe we made gods out of our possessions, and violated the very real command of having no other gods before the Lord?
We are human and we will mess up at times. Thank God for the sacrament of reconciliation. May we be more mindful of our actions so we may not be hypocrites. People are watching.
It is no use walking somewhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.-Saint Francis of Assisi
I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please.-Saint Lorenzo Ruiz
We must all try to be preachers through our deeds.-Saint Teresa of Ávila
It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but to actually be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.-Saint Ignatius of Antioch