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Sunday August 30th, 2015

22nd Sunday of OT



Jesus And The Law



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?”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5

     R.  (1a)One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
   and slanders not with his tongue.

R.  One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
by whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.

R.  One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
shall never be disturbed.

R.  One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.


 Reading II
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 first fruits 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.



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

 When the Pharisees with some of the 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 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 and 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 the outside can defile that person; but the things that come from within are what defile.

“For within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastely, theft, murder, adultery, greed, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”





They had come all the way from Jerusalem to catch him.  Not out of love for God, not out of love for God’s law, but because of their hatred for him, because he threatened to undermine their power over the crowd.  They had been watching him all day, but they had not been able to find anything wrong in him.  Obviously he was an observer of the law in dress, words, and behavior.  They stopped looking at him; they gave up on him.  Instead, they started to observe his followers, that ignorant bunch who were no longer listening to them, but were following him as if they had found a new leader, as if they did not exist anymore.


They looked and they watched, and finally they caught some who were picking corn as they walked along on a Sabbath day.  Why hadn’t he warned them?  Why hadn’t he reproached them?  Why did he let this pass without a word?  They attacked in the name of their law, in the name of their prestige and power.  They did not appeal to that law to guarantee or improve the human condition.  They did not appeal to that law to enable life and joy.  They did not appeal to that law to enhance or celebrate.  They did not appeal to that law out of love of God.  They appealed to it to litigate and win, to profit and to gloat, to catch and to kill.  He looked at them, at their faked pious faces full of hatred and greed, and he said:  “You hypocrites, how far are God’s intentions from your hearts; how false is the reverence you seem to pay.  Is that God’s command, to catch and to kill, to hunger and to lust, to rule and to reign, to exploit and to plunder?  You say that you stand for justice.  You say that you defend God’s will; but you only intend to profit yourselves at whatever the cost.” 


Jesus did not say my friends that the law is no good.  He did not say that the law should be abolished.  He did imply that law can be used in such a way that it kills, that it stinks, that it makes human life impossible.  And you know as well as I do that in these times as well, some of those who are leading our country, are not exactly concerned about our plight, but more concerned about their own personal agenda of power and control, of divide and conquer.  It seems as if we are no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people, but more so a government of the special interest groups.


Jesus’ words are a warning to us.  If we do what people from Jerusalem did, watch to be sure everything is done according to the letter of the law in order to catch and fleece, we are not sincere.  We are hypocrites, making human life impossible.  Even a good thing like the law, even an excellent thing like God’s law, can be turned into something that kills, as it did in the case of Jesus, when they nailed him on the cross in the name – so they said – of God’s law!!


Pious prayers alone will not make a difference in this country anymore my friends.  Standing up for our Christian moral and values, that are the backbone of our Constitution has become an essential task each day. 


 The heart of the matter, Jesus says, is what is inside (our motives and intentions), not what is outside (observing the proper ritual).  Is Jesus contradicting what we know from Deuteronomy, James, and the psalmist?  Not really.  Our earlier writers were right:  Our faith is reflected in what we say and do.  Jesus reminds us that the opposite is also true.  What we say and do also reflects what is inside us.  Do not be fooled.  Motives are important.  Indeed, what is in the heart can even make the difference between doing good works and simply “going through the motions.”     


(C) Deacon Steve A. Politte 

August 30th, 2015





-----BENDED KNEE-----


So long ago, I came to You
And You opened wide and let me in.
So young I was, so immature,
Not knowing what would begin.

Back then, I thought I knew it all,
How could I have been so vain?
But as I grew and learned from life
That courage began to wane.

Each new episode You taught me,
I held so close at heart
And traveled a journey so steadfast,
Feeling we would never part.

I held so close beside You
Temptations, there were, galore
Swimming those rivers of sadness
To safely reach Your shore.

Now as the years are mounting
And that veil is growing thin
I can see what's waiting for me
And I can see where I have been.

Lord, with Your gracious blessing
I know You've brought me here
To pass the greatest test of all
And put away all my fear.

For soon the time is coming
When Your sweet face I will see
And there within Your presence
I will be on Bended Knee........

Author: Carolyn Ford Witt









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