When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
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 someone 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)

Scripture Study

7:3 the traditions of the elders Possibly refers to a coherent body of practices and norms handed down from earlier generations.

7:4 purifying themselves Probably to guard against defilement by unintentional contact with ritually unclean objects or people.

7:6 it is written Jesus quotes Isa 29:13, which is part of an oracle condemning the people of Jerusalem, and by extension God’s people in general, for failing to follow God’s commandments.

7:9 How well you set aside Jesus is accusing the Pharisees of favoring their own traditions over the law of Moses—which is ironic, since they claimed to be leading interpreters and practitioners of Mosaic law.

7:10 for Moses said For Moses said Jesus quotes Exod 20:12 and Exod 21:17 respectively, applying these laws to situations when the parents of an adult are in need.

7:11 qorban The Greek text here uses the Hebrew term qorban, which commonly refers to sacrificial offerings.

7:12 to do nothing more for his father or his mother The tradition probably held that if a person dedicated resources to God, they could no longer be used for another purpose. Thus, the promise in Mark 7:11 would mean that no resources could be used to support one’s parents, because those resources had been dedicated to God.

7:13 your tradition In ancient Near Eastern culture, the expectation would have been that children help care for their older parents.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who have imposed their interpretation of the Law on the Israelites. Keep in mind that the first Christians and the writers of the first Christian documents were all Jews, or at least people formed by a Jewish thought world. They made sense of Jesus in terms of what were, to them, the Scriptures.

Jesus himself was an observant Jew, and the themes and images of the Holy Scriptures were elemental for him. He presented himself as the one who would not undermine the Law and the Prophets but fulfill them.

All of those social and religious conventions that had effectively divided Israel, he sought to overcome and expose as fraudulent. He reached out to everyone: rich and poor, healthy and sick, saints and sinners. And he embodied the obedience of Israel: “I have come only to do the will of the one who sent me.” “My food is to do the will of my heavenly Father.”

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.