To all our parishioners and dear friends of our parish community…Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
For the next five Sundays, the Second Reading comes from the Letter of St. James.
Along with the Letters of St. John, St. Peter, and St. Jude, the Letter of St. James is considered one of the “catholic” epistles, which means that its intention and scope are universal.
In this reading, St. James begins by pointing out the goodness of all the gifts that come from the Father. At the end of the reading, St. James provides an application of how Christians are to be “doors of the word.” Concern for those forgotten among us, the orphans and the widows is to be an essential part of the practice of religion.
For Catholics, the Corporal Works of Mercy, especially feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead, have been traditional and primary ways to put our faith into practice (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2447).
Today is the first Sunday since the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time that we will hear the Gospel according to St. Mark proclaimed. St. Mark’s Gospel, as you know, is the oldest and the briefest of the Gospels.
This account of the controversy between Jesus and the Pharisees about Jewish ritual purity serves as the climax to the section in St. Mark’s Gospel in which Jesus’ power and authority are revealed through the feeding of the Five Thousand (Mark 6:35-44), His walking on the water (Mark 6:45-52), and His healing of the sick in many villages and towns (Mark 6:53-56).
One of St. Mark’s points in using this literary structure is to show that Jesus is doing something new and new is always difficult to accept. Both in the miracles He performs and in His relativization of the Jewish purity ritual and laws in today’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that belief in Him and the proclamation of the kingdom of God already present in Jesus’ very person are what really matter. The Pharisees continually misunderstand or refuse to understand what Jesus is about.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that hypocrites, literally those whose faces are hidden behind masks, are truly those who attempt to hide behind Old Testament law. While it appears in this passage that Jesus does jettison the Old Testament laws of ritual purity, the main point is rather that Jesus is calling all people to a new relationship with Him, based on what is in the hearts. He now sets in place God’s Commandment, the Great Commandment, love of God, neighbor, and self.
As you read this, my Summer Vacation days are coming to an end. I will be flying back home to the U.S., directly from Warsaw to JFK-New York on Monday, August 31st. Please pray for a safe flight home. As the old song goes, “See you in September!”
Blessings on your Summer Days,