I would like to also propose a question or offer an encouragement each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message: The second reading from James should challenge us. I was reflecting on the final verse this week, particularly in light of the coming Year of Mercy. I honestly think I fail at this quite miserably, pretty much every single day. So, perhaps, this week would be a good time, at least for me, to reach out to someone in my life who is in need. Maybe that person I find most difficult to get along with. That is true religion.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don’t add a word to what I command you, and don’t remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you.
Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what’s going on, they’ll say, “What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I’m setting before you today?
tell the truth.
“Don’t hurt your friend,
don’t blame your neighbor;
despise the despicable.
“Keep your word even when it costs you,
make an honest living,
never take a bribe.
“You’ll never get
blacklistedif you live like this.”
James 1: 17-18, 21b-22, 27
Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
Throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!
Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
Mark 7:1-8,14-15, 21-23
The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).
The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”
Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they are worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy,
Ditching God’s command
and taking up the latest fads.”
Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you—take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”
When he was back home after being with the crowd, his disciples said, “We don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”