The Word of God
Twenty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

This Sunday, the Gospel Reading talks to us about the hypocrisy of people who, like the Pharisees, want to look have an outward appearance that is pleasing but neglect a fundamental part of themselves, their soul. In Jesus’ times, the Pharisees observed many traditions such as washing their hands before every meal and purifying themselves upon returning home from the street. Even though, as we all know, cleanliness is absolutely necessary for healthy living, we should not forget that purity of soul is what will gain our entry into heaven.

We heard in the Gospel Reading that a group of Pharisees, with some scribes from Jerusalem, observed that Jesus’ disciples ate without washing their hands. Upon seeing this, they asked Him, “Why do your disciples eat with impure hands and do not follow the tradition of the elders?”

The Pharisees were members of a Jewish sect. Many of them outwardly observed all of the demands of the Law of Moses, boasting about being the most pure. They liked to say that they were better than anyone who did not belong to their group. They look down on anyone who was not a Pharisee. This is curious because many of them only observed the Law when they were being watched. That was the reason that Jesus called them hypocrites. He said: “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, hypocrites, as is written: ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’… You disregard the commandment of God so as to cling to the tradition of men.”

From the times of the apostles up to our times, we see that these same things continue to happen. Even though we do not hold the same traditions as the Jews, in our customs and manners hypocrisy also exists. When some people get ready to go to Mass on Sunday, they are very worried about the pretty clothes they wear, about presenting a worthy exterior appearance. But I ask you: What about your soul? Do you try to maintain it clean? Purity of soul is what Jesus asks of His followers. He wants us to make our soul pleasing to Him, just as Hee wants us to use clothes that are pleasing to people. What He asks of us is that we frequently cleanse our interior. So, first, let us clean ourselves inside. And afterwards we can dress up with dignified and decent clothes, especially when we go to Church. The two things complement each other and are pleasing to God.

After warning the Pharisees, the Lord began to speak to the people again. And He said to them, “Nothing that enters from outside can make a man impure. What comes out from the inside is what makes him impure.” He did not say this only for the people of His own times. This goes for us today, in these modern times we live. To us Jesus continues to say that from the heart of a person comes all of the evil that offends God: fornication, robbery, homicide, greed, adultery, injustice, fraud, licentiousness, envy, defamation, pride, folly. All of these are sins. And sin makes us impure.

A Christian should be faithful to the teachings of Christ. The apostle, James, in the Second Reading, says that we should calmly accept the Word that has been planted in us and that can save us. He says very clearly that it is not enough to hear the Word and afterwards forget it and not put it into practice. If, when we leave the Church, we don’t even remember what the Readings of the Mass said, how can we put them into practice? That is why we must listen attentively to the Word as it is proclaimed and preached in every Mass and try to retain it in our mind and in our heart as we live out our daily lives.