22B21. Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 6-8. To live as the people of God the Israelites had to be obedient to God’s Will, which meant exact observance of the statues and decrees of the whole of God’s law. From that observance would flow their life as a great nation crafted by God. God would take away the possession of a land that was possessed by others and give that land to the Israelites. “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?” In John 14:23bc, Jesus said, “Whoever loves me will keep my word (which is to do whatever Jesus tells us to do), and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” So close to us is our God that, when we obey his will, we live with him now and later forever in the spiritual land of the heaven that he gives us.
Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23. The people of the Middle East did not have any knowledge of germs and resultant hygiene but did recognize that things could become dirty or soiled. It was customary to wash and especially sprinkle people and various objects as an act that was to be a ritual cleansing, so that they were acceptable culturally and religiously. Jesus quotes Isaiah to make the point that the leaders of the Jewish religion were not leading the people to become devoted to God by becoming holy as God is holy. Instead they were intent on making Judaism a religion of performing external rituals rather than growing in love of the Lord. In John 7:19 Jesus said: “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law?” My understanding of what Jesus was saying is that God’s purpose in creating the Judaic law for his people was to have them draw close to the God who was close to them. Please read over Matthew’s chapter 5 that makes clear how different Christianity was and is from the standard religious practices of Jesus’ times in Judea.
James 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.” All true goodness originates in God and God only. Through his goodness to us, we have been living in the presence of God through the teaching of the gospel and the Church, “the word of truth.” We must be people who live what the Lord wants of us and not just “hearers only.” Because we belong to the Lord, we belong to what is above and not to what is below. (John 3:31 & 8:23)