Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.”10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.[a] And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”-Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14 NRSV
The Mouth With Expose Us
The optional reading from today’s Mass has implications for more than the Pharisees. It has big implications for us as well. The Pharisees got so caught up in keeping the law that they forgot about the spirit of the law. In other words they were more concerned about appearing to be holy. They did this by being strict about all the ritual observances, but they never allowed the purpose of those observances to change their hearts.
The answer of our Lord tells us a lot in this situation. In no uncertain terms he tools the Pharisees that what is in your heart is what defiles you. One can put on a mask and play holiness, and the short run that may fool some. However God knows the heart of us all. We can fool others but we can’t fool God.
Maybe you are reading this and you are immediately thinking about how this applies to others. That is the first indication that you may be thinking the way the Pharisees were. We can get caught up in doing something , and playing Catholicism, that we are not actually practicing the faith.
My challenge to you today is to take an internal inventory. Have you looked at someone with scorn because they showed up to Mass wearing a pair of shorts? Perhaps you look at someone who received communion on the hand as somewhat of an inferior catholic. The point is we don’t know the heart of the person. Don’t judge based on outward depictions of one’s faith. If that were the case then the Pharisees would be in the place of St. Augustine or St. John Vianney. What is in their heart is what matters.
On the question of relating to our fellowman – our neighbor’s spiritual need transcends every commandment. Everything else we do is a means to an end. But love is an end already, since God is love.-St. Teresia Benedicta
Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity.-St. Vincent de Paul
Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.”-St. Toribio
You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud.-St. Vincent de Paul
From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!-St. Teresa of Avila