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From: Mark 7:1-13

The Tradition of the Elders

[1] Now when the Pharisees gathered together to Him (Jesus), with some of the
scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, [2] they saw that some of His disciples
ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. [3] (For the Pharisees, and all the
Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the el-
ders; [4] and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they
purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the
washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) [5] And the Pharisees and the
scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not live according to the tradition of
the elders, but eat with hands defiled?” [6] And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah
prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me; [7] in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doc-
trines the precepts of men.’ [8] You leave the commandment of God, and hold
fast the tradition of men.

[9] And He said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of
God, in order to keep your tradition! [10] For Moses said, “Honor your father and
your mother’; and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’; [11]
but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained
from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)—[12] then you no longer permit him to
do anything for his father or mother, [13] thus making void the word of God
through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do.”


1-2. Hands were washed not for reasons of hygiene or good manners but be-
cause the custom had religious significance: it was a rite of purification. In Exo-
dus 30:17ff the Law of God laid down how priests should wash before offering sa-
crifice. Jewish tradition had extended this to all Jews before every meal, in an ef-
fort to give meals a religious significance, which was reflected in the blessings
which marked the start of meals. Ritual purification was a symbol of the moral
purity a person should have when approaching God (Psalm 24:3ff; 51:4 and 9);
but the Pharisees had focused on the mere external rite. Therefore Jesus re-
stores the genuine meaning of these precepts of the Law, whose purpose is to
teach the right way to render homage to God (cf. John 4:24).

3-5. We can see clearly from this text that very many of those to whom St.
Mark’s Gospel was first addressed were Christians who had been pagans and
were unfamiliar with Jewish customs. The Evangelist explains these customs
in some detail, to help them realize the significance of the events and teachings
reported in the Gospel story.

Similarly, Sacred Scripture needs to be preached and taught in a way which
puts it within reach of its hearers. This is why Vatican II teaches that “it is for the
bishops suitable to instruct the faithful [...] by giving them translations of the sa-
cred texts which are equipped with necessary and really adequate explanations.
Thus the children of the Church can familiarize themselves safely and profitably
with the Sacred Scriptures, and become steeped in their spirit” (”Dei Verbum”,

11-13. For an explanation of this text cf. note on Mt. 15:5-6. Jesus Christ, who
is the authentic interpreter of the Law, because as God He is its author, explains
the scope of the fourth commandment and points out the mistakes made by the
Jewish casuistry. There were many other occasions when He corrected mista-
ken interpretations offered by the Jewish teachers: for example, when He recalls
that phrase of the Old Testament, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy,
and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6, 1 Samuel 15:22; Sirach 35:4) in Matthew 9:13.

[The note on Matthew 15:5-6 states:

5-6. Over the years teachers of the Law (scribes) and priests of the temple had
distorted the true meaning of the fourth commandment. In Jesus’ time, they were
saying that people who contributed to the temple in cash or in kind were absolved
from supporting their parents: it would be sacrilegious for parents to lay claim to
this “corban” (offerings for the altar). People educated in this kind of thinking felt
that they were keeping the fourth commandment — in fact, fulfilling it in the best
way possible — and they were praised for their piety by the religious leaders of
the nation. But what in fact it meant was that, under the cloak of piety, they were
leaving elderly parents to fend for themselves. Jesus, who is Messiah and God, is
the one who can correctly interpret the Law. Here He explains the proper scope
of the fourth commandment, exposing the error of Jewish practice at the time. For
Christians, therefore, the fourth commandment includes affectionate help of pa-
rents if they are old or needy, even if one has other family, social or religious obli-
gations to attend to. Children should check regularly on whether they are looking
after their parents properly.]

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 02/11/2013 10:56:43 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass

First reading Genesis 1:20-2:4 ©
God said, ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth within the vault of heaven.’ And so it was. God created great sea-serpents and every kind of living creature with which the waters teem, and every kind of winged creature. God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply upon the earth.’ Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.
  God said, ‘Let the earth produce every kind of living creature: cattle, reptiles, and every kind of wild beast.’ And so it was. God made every kind of wild beast, every kind of cattle, and every kind of land reptile. God saw that it was good.
  God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’
God created man in the image of himself,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants that are upon the whole earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.
  Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he had rested after all his work of creating.
  Such were the origins of heaven and earth when they were created.

Psalm Psalm 8:4-9 ©
How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,
  the moon and the stars which you arranged,
what is man that you should keep him in mind,
  mortal man that you care for him?
How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
Yet you have made him little less than a god;
  with glory and honour you crowned him,
gave him power over the works of your hand,
  put all things under his feet.
How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!
All of them, sheep and cattle,
  yes, even the savage beasts,
birds of the air, and fish
  that make their way through the waters.
How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!

Gospel Acclamation Ps118:24
Alleluia, alleluia!
Train me, Lord, to observe your law,
to keep it with my heart.
Or Ps118:36,29
Alleluia, alleluia!
Bend my heart to your will, O Lord,
and teach me your law.

Gospel Mark 7:1-13 ©
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Corban (that is, dedicated to God), then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother.” In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.’

5 posted on 02/11/2013 11:00:50 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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