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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
August 30, 2015

Some of the Pharisees, along with some of the scribes, have come to observe what Jesus and His disciples are doing.  They are shocked that His disciples eat with “unclean” hands.  As these Pharisees and scribes see it, the Law is clear in requiring purification rituals before eating.

To understand this, we need to understand the difference between “washing” our hands and “purification”.  Washing our hands before eating is a health concern so we don’t become sick or spread germs.  Purification is something we do as a spiritual exercise.

The Pharisees and the scribes have confused the two.  They have taken an Old Testament rule for priests to purify their hands before presiding at ritual and extended it to all people.  In effect they have added to what God has commanded.  Jesus tells them this is not the way it is meant to be.

Today there are people who feel the Catholic Church has added to what God has taught in the scriptures.  Without a doubt, the Catholic Church has a lot to say and offers many teachings on faith and morals.  However, it is not the intent of the Catholic Church to add to what God has taught us.

First of all, we believe that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.  So, when it offers a teaching, it flows from the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, the purpose of Church teaching is to help us take what God revealed in the Bible 2,000 years ago and apply it to our lives today.  The world has changed, particularly with industrialization and technology but this does not make God’s teaching out of date.

Moses speaks to the people of how, if they follow God’s commandments, they will be seen as wise and intelligent.  The fact is that God’s commandments are good for us.

Let’s look at God’s Commandment, Thou shall not steal.  We don’t want people taking our stuff so we agree stealing is bad.  Stealing is not good for society as a whole.  If we always live in fear of someone stealing our stuff, then we won’t trust others.  How can society function if we can’t trust anyone?

I think everyone would agree on this much but the Church calls us to take the Commandment not to steal a step further.  For instance, not paying a person a proper wage for their work is not giving them their due and, hence, stealing.  Some would not agree.

While the Catholic Church is accused by some of adding to what God has taught, today there are people who want to subtract from what God has taught.  God says not to do this.

Some people want a very watered down faith.  They say if you just believe in Jesus it is enough.  Believing in Jesus is enough but to believe in Jesus means to live according to what He teaches.

Those who wish to subtract say it is outdated or we see things differently now.  For instance, there are explicit passages in the Bible that declare homosexual activity a sin but they want to say it is outdated.

Is everything in the Bible current Church teaching?  Well, you can read in the Old Testament about the animal sacrifices required by the scriptures.  We no longer offer animal sacrifices but this was not changed by psychology or other human thought.  It was changed by Jesus when He came to show us what true sacrifice is as He died on the Cross for us.

Today we have heard God’s Word.  As Paul writes it is not enough just to be hearers of the Word.  We must be doers of the Word.

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