Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14
Both the first reading and today’s Gospel are reminders of God’s enormous power in our lives and the wisdom of living in true faithfulness to God rather than hollow displays of obedience or no obedience at all. If God is the ultimate source of our joy, and the absence of God the source of all unrelenting sorrow, then our authentic relationship to God can only bring us the true peace we desire. It is our heartfelt acceptance and gratitude for God’s presence in our lives that lights our path and brings us to salvation.
In the Gospel, the Pharisees question Jesus as to why the disciples are breaking with the tradition of their elders. The implication, of course, is that the disciples are not being good or faithful Jews, and that Jesus is associating with those who would cast aside their own history and tradition. But Jesus reminds the Pharisees, in a very serious and deliberate way, that the real sin is not in failing to perform a time-honored tradition. The sin that defiles our very selves is speaking and behaving as if WE are God: "…what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one."
The disciples, like any of us who have been unfairly accused, want to levy their judgment in return on the Pharisees. But Jesus reminds them, too, that everything on this earth has been put here by God; it is God who plants and who uproots what He has not planted, according to His will. It is not even for the disciples, innocent as they may be of wrong-doing or negligence, to cast their judgments on others. Such judgment only leads to self-delusion and blindness.
Ultimately, in resting on the appearance of faith or believing our power to be supreme, we may be in very real danger of leading ourselves and others to a painful and dark place. But when we remember and honor the real source of all power and goodness, and seek to bring our true selves to God’s light, then we may find we are blessed with a sure-footedness and an insight that we can truly count on.
Nancy Nickel is the Director of Communications for Holy Cross Province.