Daily Reflection – 2/11/2020
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles [and beds].) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy 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 as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’(meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.” ( Mark 7:1-13)
Today’s Gospel directs us to answer a fundamental question: Are you in a relationship with God? Or even more specifically, what is the relationship you wish to have with Jesus? Is a superficial relationship with Jesus all you want or do you desire a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him? Jesus wants all of us: mind, body, and soul!
In spite of the power of that invitation and the indescribable love contained in it, too often we often act as if God dwells in the church building, but not in our offices, streets, or homes. We think that strict rules defining who is “in” or “out” reflect the mind of God and determine who qualifies as a recipient of God’s favor. We think Christians own God, and the people of other faith traditions can be despised and cast aside. We think people of different skin color from ours are evil-minded and outside our duty to be compassionate, welcoming, and healing. If we are truly listening to the Gospel message of Jesus, how did we get so blind and close-hearted? God must look at our world and cry.
Going to church, having a quiet time, singing some songs—these things are easy. Loving God and people fully and completely as Jesus describes is not easy. It’s not even hard. It’s impossible! You cannot make yourself love God. You cannot make yourself love people. Though you can change your behavior, you cannot change your heart.
Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, we have Jesus. Jesus secures for us much more than a new set of traditions. He secures for us rescue from our failure to obey God and new hearts capable of obedience.
If your lips and your heart do not match, close the gap. Maybe you’re going to church out of tradition, but in your heart you’d rather be elsewhere. Maybe you sing the Sunday songs, but your heart feels cold toward the lyrics. Maybe you speak in Christian jargon that your heart doesn’t really believe. You must close the gap between your ‘lips’ and your heart. But how?
Since you cannot change your heart, change your lips. Start being honest. Start speaking, singing, acting in alignment with your heart. Say to God, “I want to want you, but I don’t. Please forgive me and help me.” Or, “I know I should want you, but I don’t. Please forgive me and help me.”
And here’s the really good news. He already knows, and he loves you. He knows your heart better than you do, and he loves you. When you speak honestly with him like this, he won’t be shocked. Like a father whose wayward son is finally returning home, he’ll run to embrace you.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make my heart like yours. Strengthen my heart, mind, and my will that I may freely choose to love what is good and to reject what is evil.”
Compassion, care, inclusion, and love are at risk in our world today. God is calling each one of us to do what we can to live by the core messages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not by trying to “contain” God but by living the moral and ethical demands that Jesus calls us to fulfill.