22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

22B18.   Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8. Knowing that he will die before God’s People enter the Promised Land, Moses gives them the Lord’s Law that will enable them to be a people who will always benefit by being loyal and obedient to the God who is so generous to His People.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.  Jesus’ followers often were common ordinary folks who did not follow some of the traditions of the Jewish leaders, such as washing their hands before meals.  The Pharisees criticized them.  Jesus’ response, in turn, was to criticize the Pharisees for making so much of what was human tradition yet not observe God’s Law itself, such as the requirement to honor one’s parents (Mark 7:10-13).  While the Law did not speak of washing one’s hand, it did declare some foods to be unclean.  Jesus, using his divine authority, did declare that there is no food that makes one unclean but rather that the evil within a person that is an expression of one’s inner self that makes him unclean.  The commentary written in the text of Mark 7:19c declares: “Thus he declared all foods clean.” What defiles a person is not the product of which food one eats but rather of the evil one has given himself over to. Jesus is accusing the Pharisees of making much of appearances and little or nothing of what is in one’s heart.

James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27.  All goodness that is true goodness has at its roots in God as the giver.  Jesus said in Matthew 9:17: “There is only One who is good.” God is good down to his very essence and nothing can cause him to be anything but good. Often God makes us agents of goodness so that we can pass on his goodness to others.  “He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”  God gave us birth into the new life of Christianity “by the word of truth” i.e. the gospel message of his salvation for us.  “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” James is calling upon us who are being loved by Jesus to bring that love to others through our attitude and actions.  John says in 1 John 3:18, “Children, let us love not in word or in speech but in deed and truth.”  James writes in James 2:17: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James wrote in James 1:27c: “Keep oneself unstained by the world.”  Remember in the Gospel that Jesus said, “The things that come out from within are what defile.” The evil ways of this world enter our hearts ungoverned by the God who is goodness.  The actions that come from a heart that belongs to God are only goodness.  Let us always remember that God is the only true source of genuine goodness.