Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time- Cycle B
August 30, 2015
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First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Second Reading: James 1:17-18,21b-22,27Gospel Reading: Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
- The cycle of readings return to the Gospel of Mark after a four week detour through John 6. Jesus is now in the town of Gennesaret on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee where he has been conducting a healing ministry (Mark 6:53-56).
- He is approached by some Pharisees (a religious/political party) who are joined by scribes (religious legal experts) from Jerusalem, the religious center of Israel.
- Jesus’ entire ministry is marked by conflict with certain Pharisees of his time (Matthew 23 and following, for example). Respected by the people as engaging in religious purity as a form of resistance against the pagan Roman occupiers of Israel, their approach, nonetheless, often tended toward external ritualism, legalism, and self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14 Matthew 6:1-6). It is for this attitude that Jesus criticizes them in today’s Gospel.
- The issue at hand is that of being ritually “clean” or “unclean”—what should be the basis of our holiness in our worship and everyday conduct? Jesus’ teaching in this area (verses 14-23) is reflects the biblical concept of “the heart” as being the center of the person and source of every decision that results in action (Matthew 5:28).
- According to the first and second readings, is God’s Law a good thing or a bad thing? When can the observance of God’s laws turn negative rather than positive? Is the problem with God’s Law—or does it lie somewhere else?
- How will the Church later struggle with this issue of dietary laws, i.e., clean/unclean foods (see Acts 10:9-16; Acts 15; Romans 14:13-23; Galatians 2:11-16; CCC 582)?
- Why does Jesus place the source of defilement within the heart of a person rather than, say, the imagination? What things come out of a defiled heart (verses 21-22; Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 1:29-31; 1 Peter 4:3)?
- Where does Jesus place the responsibility for being clean—on the circumstance or on you? What events in your life might illustrate how things that come out of you can make you clean or unclean? What are some ways we can purify our hearts?
- How do you cope with distraction at the liturgy (the Mass)? What do you bring to the liturgy so as to draw your heart nearer to God? Can you say that your participation at the liturgy amounts to more than “lip service?” How can you enter more deeply into worship?
Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 577—582, 2517
This is an answer to those who consider that evil thoughts are simply injected by the devil and that they do not spring from our own will. He can add strength to our bad thoughts and inflame them, but he cannot originate them. –St. Bede the Venerable (ca. A.D. 725)
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