Daily Gospel
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary TimeB

 

Reading 1 (Dt. 4:1-2, 6-8)

Moses said to the people:
"Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin upon you,
you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.
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.'
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?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?"

Reading 2 (Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27)

Dearest brothers and sisters:
All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

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.

Gospel (Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus,
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 summoned the crowd again and said to them,
"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."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: The true worship

            Many people limited their religion in worshipping God in the church, such as: to attend Sunday Mass, to be baptized to have a Catholic name or to observe only some main things as the law required. They forget that the true worship requires them to live a truthful relationship with God in liturgical worship and also in daily life. They must practice all God’s law and live a perfect love by helping others.

            Each of today reading emphasizes one aspect of practicing religion. In the first reading, Moses gave reasons to advise the Israelites to keep God’s Ten Commandments. In the second reading, St. James paid a special attention both to the hearing and to the practicing of God’s word because both of them are important. One can’t separate faith from work because the latter is needed to verify the earlier. In the Gospel, Jesus accused scribes and Pharisees of their hyporitical practice of religion; they practiced the laws related to outside purification and forgot to practice the laws related to the purification of their mind and heart. He also wanted people to put God’s commandment over human laws and tradition.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Observe carefully the commandments of the Lord, your God.

1.1/ The importance of God’s commandments: Happiness isn’t only depended on living in the Promise Land, but also on the right relationship which people must have with God and others. Realizing the importance of the latter, God prepared for the Israelites by giving them the Ten Commandments when they were still in desert, at the foot of Sinai mountain. In today passage, Moses explained the importance of these commandments to the Israelites by giving them reasons why God gave them.

            (1) The Ten Commandments came from God, the only One knows what is truly good for human beings. He gave them through Moses on Sinai mountain.

            (2) He gave the Ten Commandments because He loves them: Moses considered the Ten Commandments as the most valued priviledges, only for God’s own people, when he questioned the Israelites: “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? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” The answers are negative for both questions. Only God of the Israel accompanied them on their journey and only Him gave them the divine law through the Ten Commandments.

            (3) No one shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it: People like to add, to substract or to change order of the sentence, either to make it sounding better or to hide their wicked thought in it. Moses clearly declared the immutability of the Ten Commandments, “In your observance of the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.”

            (4) They are the requirement to enter and to stay in the Promise Land: Moses continued, “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” The Promise Land can be understood as the Canaan region, but also more widely as the kingdom of heaven. Since the Israelites didn’t keep the requirement which is to practice the Ten Commandments, they must be on exile many times through the course of their history.

1.2/ The commandments were given to practice, not only to praise them: Moses commanded the Israelites, “Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.”

            According to Jewish tradition, the Ten Commandment is called God’s “Ten Words” (deca-logos in Greek, decalogue in France). Word can be a word or the whole sermon. In Hebraic language, there is no difference between a word and a thing. They use the same word "dabar" to indicate a spoken word and thing happened. They have a reason to do that because if a person knows but doesn’t practice, what he knows doesn’t benefit him. A Vietnamese adage also highlights this concept, “to know must be identified with to practice.” The Ten Commandments is given by God to live, not just to remember or to praise them.

1.3/ The Ten Commandments don’t limit human freedom: Absolutely speaking, people still have freedom to practice or not; but they provide a guideline for people, especially they help people to recognize dangers of enemies who are waiting for and tempting people. Moreover, they also help people to allocate the priority of life: God must be put above all, then the relationship between human beings, and last of all is their relationship with the material world.

2/ Reading II: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

2.1/ The effect of God’s word: St. James emphasized both God’s word and people’s effort to put these words in practice.

            (1) God’s word is the truth: It helps people to recognize the truth from falsity. St. James talked about the importance of God’s word as follows: “He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” God’s word brings salvation for people and helps them to avoid sins.

            (2) People must put God’s word in practice: Having the same thought with Moses in the first reading, St. James advised his faithful to pay a special attention to the practice of God’s word, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

            We need to know the situations of many early communities. Many people misunderstood St. Paul’s teaching on the relationship between faith and work, especially in his Letters to Romans and Galat in which he said, “people are saved by their faith in Christ.” Many interpreted his saying as: people only need to have faith in Christ, works aren’t important because they aren’t related to human salvation. Today, there are still many Protestants and some other live according to this interpretation. This is a wrong interpretation because Christ and St. Paul didn’t teach people as such. St. James also had to face people with such faith in his community. In another place of his Letter, he said even stronger, “Faith without work is death” (2:17).

2.2/ The one who loves God, must also love others: Christ abbreviated God’s Ten Commandments in the two basic commandments which are “love God and others.” Or we can even more simplify to one commandment which is love; Catholic is the religion of love. Of course, we must understand that the verb love is for the divine love, not the human love. Jesus demanded his disciples to love their enemies, to pray for and to do good for those who caused damages for them. St. James also advised his faithful, “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.”

3/ Gospel: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

3.1/ Scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of neglecting the elders’ tradition: This is one of major conflicts between Jesus and them. St. Mark reportes the problem as follows: “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?"”

            The Kosher law of the Jews are all the laws that relate to keep purity in eating, drinking and offering sacrifices. Most of these laws are added by people through generation.

3.2/ The fundamental principles: Taking the opportunity, Jesus wanted to teach them three important principles:

            (1) Don’t worship God only by words on their lips because He fathoms all things that happen in their mind and heart. They can deceive other human beings by their hypocrisy, but can never  deceive God. Jesus illustrated the prophet Isaiah’s word for this kind of people, “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.’”

            (2) Don’t omit God’s word to observe human tradition: Jesus continued to accuse them, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition.” Jesus came to the world, not to destroy human good tradition, but to teach them that they must put God’s word above human laws and tradition. When there is a conflict between the divine and the human law, they must have courage to forsake human law and to keep God’s law; for examples, abortion, death penalty or euthanasia.

            (3) Purification of mind and heart is more important than outside things: Lastly, Jesus taught them, “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.”

            What Jesus wanted people to pay attention is the purification of their mind and heart because the results of sins cause more dangers for people than the impurity of eating and drinking. Scribes and Pharisees paid attention to outside purification in order to cover up their sins because they thought that no one can know what they were having inside; but they couldn’t hide from Jesus. He saw all hidden things in them.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must practice all what God teaches us in the Ten Commandments because they are the basic laws to bring happiness for human beings.

            - God’s word isn’t purely knowledge, but also to practice in order to benefit people. If we know and don’t practice them, we are wasting out time because we don’t bring any profit for ourselves and others.

            - Keeping everything clean is needed to avoid sickness; but we need to pay attention more to the purification of our mind and heart because sins cause more damages for our soul. 

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