Theme: THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD GIVES LIFE AND LOVE
- Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-8;
- Psalm 14 (15): 2-5. R/ v. 1;
- James 1:17-18. 21-22. 27
- Mark 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23
Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the commandment of the Lord gives us life and love!
The gospel today tells us not to substitute human traditions for the commandment of God. Human traditions cannot give us life and love, only the commandment of God can give us life and love!
Human traditions, like the ritual purifications of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the washing of hands before eating and the washing of cups, pots and dishes cannot wash away the fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, jealousy, pride, etc., in our hearts and give us life; only the commandment of God can wash away the sins in our hearts and give us life! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:
“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and give us the Promised Land, that is, Heaven! That is why we must not add anything to the commandments of God or subtract anything from the commandments of God! If we do, then it will not give us life and love! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” (Dt 4:1-2; SM)
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm was originally “a liturgy for entrance into the sanctuary/temple” (HCSB; CSB), but in the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it also tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and love! (CCB) Thus the response:
“The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” (Ps 14 (15): 1; SM)
The responsorial psalm tells us of the commandments of the Lord, that is, act with justice, speak the truth, do no wrong to the neighbor, do not slander the neighbor, keep your pledge, do not take interest on your loan, do not take bribes against the innocent, etc. If we keep these commandments of the Lord we will live in the presence of the Lord!
But the opposite is also true, that is, if we do not act with justice, do not speak the truth, do wrong to the neighbor, slander the neighbor, take interest on our loans, take bribes against the innocent, do not keep our oaths, etc., then we will not live in the presence of the Lord, but we will die in the absence of the Lord!
Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we must not only listen to the word of God, but we must also do what the word tells us! And the word tells us to help the widow and orphans, that is the poor and the needy! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:
“But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.
Pure unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.” (Jm 1:22. 27; SM)
Today in this Mass we thank God for the commandments and we ask God to help us keep the commandments so that we may have life and love and so that we will help the poor and the needy. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.