Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity: 29 08 21
Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14, 15, 21-23
The Jewish faith tradition at the time of Jesus gave a lot of importance to ritual purity. There were also lots of prescriptions in the laws of Deuteronomy regarding purity and pollution. The laws prescribed that they should wash hands before eating, wash vessels before using them. Those were milder traditions. They also would consider people with certain diseases as impure and pollution and they would be banished from gatherings. People with certain haemorrhages were considered impure and more seriously they were considered polluting. They should not touch anyone and should not be touched as well. For people with certain illnesses these laws would have made their life very difficult. Certain foods were also considered pure and some impure.
They had a conviction that they are the chosen people of God and therefore they have to keep themselves pure before God and therefore all these purity regulations of the elders were in force.
The Pharisees and the Scribes seem to have a problem with the disciples of Jesus who were eating without washing hands. The religious leaders thought Jesus and his disciples were disregarding the traditions.
Jesus responds to their criticism by giving them a new understanding about purity. The traditional practices of the elders ensured hygiene and cleanliness which is good. Jesus taught them that what goes inside a person does not defile that person but what comes out of a person is what defiles the person.
Jesus pointed out that evil intentions are born in the human heart and they lead to evil thinking and evil actions and such evil defile a person.
This leads us to think how then can we keep ourselves from such defilement of the heart. No human being is perfect, we tend to commit sin and displease God, repenting of our sins and receiving forgiveness is way of cleansing our hearts and strive towards purity.
St. Paul while writing his epistle to the church in Rome talks about consecrating the mind for God. Mind is the seat of thinking and desires. To think good thoughts and always being mindful of the needs of others helps us to keep one self away from defilement. Paul says, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so