22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today in our Scripture, we hear of what comes from God and what we give to God in return. We hear about statutes, ordinances, precepts, and rules from God. We hear about things of our spirit – that we allow to become part of us. We are given good advice by Moses and later by Saint James. As always, the words of Jesus come to us as a gift in our Gospel.

Our Scriptures begin today with Moses telling the people that the ordinances, the statutes, precepts, the law of God is a gift. They are to abide by God‘s law and make it a part of their spirit. Now, as Americans we may here are words such as ordinances, statutes, precepts, law and think that these things are things that burden us. We may have an adverse reaction – thinking that these things are restrictions on our freedom.

However I always think of it like this. A very simple image. My wife teaches drum instruction. There are certain basic rules of learning drum rhythm and pattern called rudiments. Once a student knows the basic rudiments, then that student knows the basic drum rhythm and pattern and can build upon it and become a very skilled drummer. So these rudiments need to be practiced over and over until they become second nature. Then the student has the ability and the mastery of skill to become creative and more open to advanced drum performance. So these lessons are not restrictive but rather build a skill set that then allows the student to become a better drummer and overall musician.

That image helps me understand the laws of God. They are not restrictive. They help us become better. They help us be more like God. They help us live in the spirit of God. so when God gives us a law – it is not to control us. It is to free us. God‘s laws must become second nature in our spirit so that we can become better at living in His image. If they become a part of us then we will be more patient, more generous, more kind, slow to anger, quick to mercy, joyful, and grateful. These are the kinds of things that will increase in us.

Saint James picks up this same sentiment as he tells us that one who lives out their religion is one who cares for those most in need. At his time those most in need were widows and orphans. Who is it during our time? Who is it in our daily living? Who most needs us to take care of them?

Jesus tells us that if we live in His spirit then we accept the gifts that come from God. He tells us quite clearly what is not from God. He has a list of things that He calls evil. This list includes evil thoughts, and Chasity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy , arrogance, and folly.

All of our Scripture readings today beg the question of what we allow to become a part of us. What do we allow to be part of our spirit. What does our mind and heart release into the world? Sometimes people talk about the particular type of energy that we have. The traditional theological faith-based language is to speak in terms of our spirit. What is allowed to be calm part of our spirit? Today let us resolve to draw near to God‘s instruction. It is not restrictive or controlling. Rather it frees us to be better, to be more like God, to live more and more in His image and spirit.

We start to take care of those most in need. We send out into the world our love, care, and kindness because we live and breathe, receive and give the spirit of God. May all our words and works give glory to God.

Then we take care of those most in need. May we send out into the world our love and care and kindness because we live and breathe , we receive and give the spirit of our God. 

First Reading
Dt 4:1-2, 6-8

You shall not add to what I command you … keep the commands of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy

Moses said to the people:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
   which I am teaching you to observe,
   that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
   which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God,
   which I enjoin upon you,
   you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.

Observe them carefully,
   for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
   who will hear of all these statutes and say,
   ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
   that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
   whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
   that are as just as this whole law
   which I am setting before you today?”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5

R. :

R. (1a) One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice;
   who thinks the truth in his heart
   and slanders not with his tongue.

R. One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
   nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
by whom the reprobate is despised,
   while he honors those who fear the LORD.

R. One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
   and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
   shall never be disturbed.

R. One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Second Reading
Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27

Be doers of the word.

A reading from the Letter of Saint James

Dearest brothers and sisters:
All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
   coming down from the Father of lights,
   with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
   that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
   and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
   to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
   and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Acclamation before the Gospel
Jas 1:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.

✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

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 summoned the crowd again and said to them,
   “Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
   but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts,
   come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
   adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
   licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

All reply:

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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