No matter how good the intention, sometimes misguided principles can lead to false action. This is what Jesus chastised the Pharisees about. The traditions that had been established through the Pharisees and the Lawyers were certainly based on the Law as stated in the Torah. However, the practices that had been established to try to help people honour the Torah had effectively replaced the Law. In order to maintain spiritual cleanliness, a tradition of physical cleanliness had emerged – particularly around interaction with Gentiles and around eating. However, the purpose of the tradition had become lost. The need for physical cleanliness had replaced the maintenance of spiritual cleanliness.

The Pharisees observe some of the disciples eating without properly washing their hands and challenge Jesus about it. They are upholding the tradition that has effectively become the Law. Jesus reminds them – somewhat forcefully – that these external practices are not the Law; rather the Law is observed internally. Jesus goes so far as to call the Pharisees hypocrites. It is a criticism of them that the gospel writers attribute to Jesus quite frequently. For Jesus, hypocrisy was one of the greatest failings. Because Jesus placed such a high price on integrity of word and action he could not abide those who proclaimed to be just, pious or forgiving and yet acted in ways that were contrary to these claims. His chastisement of the Pharisees – calling them hypocrites – was a challenge to their observation of external practices and rituals instead of seeking to understand the Torah as a call to a change of heart. Jesus points out that no amount of ritual cleansing will make a person clean within. Similarly, evil and uncleanliness come from within a person – one doesn’t ‘catch it’ from contact with strangers.

© Fr Greg Sunter

©Creative Ministry Resources Pty Ltd


We, the people of St Francis Xavier - St Clare parish, seek to live Christ-centred lives, celebrating God’s presence & our faith values through worship, outreach, service, justice & hospitality.

Read our Vision Statement


Next meeting: 3 September 2015


First Reading
Dt 4:1-2. 6-8
By obeying God, Israel shows wisdom.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 14:2-5. R. v.1

Second Reading
Jas 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
All truly valuable gifts come from above.

Gospel Acclamation
Jas 1:18

Mk 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23
Jesus confronts the Pharisees, who pay only lip service to God.





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