Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.)
So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines. You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I say I do a lot of things for God. But I probably exaggerate a bit and probably overstate my actual motivations: Am I really a Jesuit out of love for God? Or a diligent social work student? Or a committed companion among migrants and refugees? Or a thoughtful community member?
I’d like to think that even the small parts of my life, like checking my e-mail, washing my hands, or Skype-ing my parents every Sunday, all fit into an integrated whole: I do these things because I love God and God’s gifts. But I’m not so sure.
Jesus challenges the Pharisees today. Again. Maybe for the same thing—honoring God with their lips, but not with their hearts. I understand that motivations are always mixed and never entirely pure, but today’s gospel still invites me: How can I put more heart into my acts, small or large?
—Garrett Gundlach, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic from the Wisconsin Province. He is engaged in Master of Social Work studies at Loyola University Chicago
What if, oh God, I could pray by the way I walked, I could pray by the way I talked, I could pray by the way I washed my hands or their dirty dishes?
What if, oh God, at the end of the day, when I come back home to again, reflect and pray– What if I saw you most not in my big wins but in the forgotten, passed-over moments?
What if, oh God, you lived most in the places that I haven’t yet looked but passed by every single day?
Wake me up, oh God!—Garrett Gundlach, S.J. Please share the Good Word with your friends!