Faith Daily | 9 February 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Epiphany Five
Father of all,
who gave your only-begotten Son
to take upon himself the form of a servant
and to be obedient even to death on a cross:
give us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus,
that, sharing in his humility,
we may come to be with him in his glory;
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen APBA p535
GOSPEL for the Day: Mark 7: 1-13
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2they 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, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6He 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; 7in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
9Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11But 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)— 12then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Hilary Bell
At this time hand washing and sanitizing have assumed great importance. In performing these actions we are showing both sensible self-care and care for others, particularly the most vulnerable. There have been regulations which we have had to accept in the interests of the wider community. Some find it difficult to put “the greater good” and compassion ahead of self-interest.
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is not railing against good hygiene practices but against rituals which have become empty and meaningless. He reserves some of his strongest criticisms for religious leaders who used such actions to place themselves above others in observance of numerous “man made” laws. The religious leaders are quick to judge, to assert their superiority over the disciples and to attack Jesus.
God knows their hearts and ours, he knows innermost thoughts and motives. He does not judge by external appearances and behaviours; I doubt that he’s keeping a roll of church attendance or support for worthy causes.
The Pharisees are rigid, stuck fast in tradition. As we have read throughout Mark’s gospel they repeatedly accuse Jesus of breaking laws, only to be shown what God’s commandments really mean.
The disciples by contrast, show themselves to be ready to follow and learn, to love, to change their lives. They have been chosen to eat with Jesus, to be fed the bread of life.
Jesus recognizes and confronts hypocrisy. As painful as it may be, Lord, please help me to recognize my own hypocrisy and pride.
FINAL PRAYER: From An Iona Prayer Book, Canterbury Press
Ever present God
everything is still in your hands.
By the spirit of prophecy
you have awakened our souls to expectancy.
So let your resurrection light
radiate through our prayers by the
power of your Holy Spirit.