Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc.
5TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 1 / (Red)
St. Paul Miki & Companions, martyrs
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 84: 3, 4, 5, 10, 11: How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
1st Reading: 1 Kings 8: 22-23, 27-30
Then Solomon stood before the altar of Yahweh in the presence of all the assembly of Israel. He raised his hands towards heaven and said, “O Yahweh, God of Israel, there is no God like you either in heaven or on earth! You keep your Covenant and show loving-kindness to your servants who walk before you wholeheartedly.
But will God really live among people on earth? If neither heavens nor the highest heavens can contain you, how much less can this house which I have built! Yet, listen to the prayer and supplication of your servant, O Yahweh my God; hearken to the cries and pleas which your servant directs to you this day.
Watch over this house of which you have said, ‘My Name shall rest there.’ Hear the prayer of your servant in this place. Listen to the supplication of your servant and your people Israel when they pray in this direction; listen from your dwelling place in heaven and, on listening, forgive.
Gospel: Mark 7: 1–13
One day, the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the law who had just come from Jerusalem.
They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors.
Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots, and plates.
So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law asked him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote:
These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.”
And Jesus commented, “You have a fine way of disregarding the commandments of God in order to enforce your own traditions! For example, Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and:
Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. But according to you, someone could say to his father or mother, ‘I already declared Corban (which means “offered to God”) what you could have expected from me.’
In this case, you no longer require him to do anything for his father or mother; and so you nullify the word of God through the tradition you have handed on. And you do many other things like that.”
The focus and goal of our journey of faith is loving-kindness. The Hebrew word for loving-kindness is chesed. This word indicates loyalty.
Solomon in the first reading attributes this word chesed to the Lord, the God who always keeps his covenant. The God of the covenant never stops showing his loving-kindness to us.
Nevertheless, this same chesed is expected of us. As covenanted people, we are called to show chesed to one another. At times, when we fail to show chesed to one another, we are left with rituals which are ordinarily used as a coverup to our failure.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to reprimand the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who put more emphasis on rituals rather than God’s commandment characterized by chesed.
There are times when we are tempted to focus on the externality for our own glorification. But the real challenge is to exercise chesed because in our every act of loving-kindness, God is the one who is truly glorified.
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