Twenty-second Sunday B in Ordinary Time
Faith of the heart (Mark 7: 1-8.14-15.21-23)
To point out the hypocrisy of God.
Indeed, many of us have had a situation in our lives when, when talking to another, we felt that the person in question was not honest with us, that he was pulling our noses and tearing at us. Such a person can repel us for the lowness of hypocrisy and for the mask he has put on. With such a life experience, we at least find out how ridiculous it is when a person does not come before God to worship him, but for a thousand other reasons – to show himself to other people, to brag about new clothes because I have this command, or I want to see a friend, how he behaves in the church, etc. And yet, God knows everything about us; he sees in every heart and every mind.
During his public ministry, Jesus experienced such situations almost on the agenda. The Pharisees, from whom hypocrisy was directly committed, lurked for Jesus, only to point out his mistakes and their purity. In addition, they were primarily based on human commands and teachings and pushed God’s commands to the sidelines.
However, Jesus knew them very well because he was a God-man, which they did not assume. Even in today’s Gospel, which we have just heard, he answers their hypocrisy: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“This people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7: 6).
In this answer of Jesus, the basic definition of hypocrisy is expressed. And if we look deeper into today’s text, we will also find its causes – pay more attention to the human than to God’s. Several Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to the Pharisees who lived in Galilee to interrogate Jesus. So officially, high-ranking key figures came from the capital. Very soon, they discovered that the customs of ancestors were generally transcended in the circle of disciples. Under Jesus’ and long before his appearance, in addition to the law of Moses contained in the Old Testament, another rule that had the same value as the Scriptures, the so-called provisions of ancestors, i.e., tradition, applied in Israel. What the leading teachers said about the words of the Bible for an explanation, their descendants elevated them to God’s commandments. Over time, these ancestral provisions became so crucial that they suppressed God’s commandments.
An essential part of the ancestral tradition concerned the law of purity. The lawyers showed them to wash their hands before every meal. As he writes for pagan Christians, Evangelist Mark describes the Pharisees in detail to clarify the matter. However, the concept of purity was understood unilaterally – especially of the body. The Pharisees and scribes have entirely forgotten that purity must also have a place in the human soul.
Jesus’ attitude toward hypocrisy is also interesting. We are witnesses of Jesus’ short and open speech, in which he addresses the Pharisees and teachers of the law. It is beautiful that we will never find such a tone in Jesus when he speaks with customs, prostitutes, sinners. He always takes them mercifully and generously. He did not drive away Mary Magdalene or the adulterous woman, but he never stopped damning the hypocrites. I think it’s worth noting.
However, it would be useless to talk and think about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in the time of Jesus if we did not use this scripture to question our conscience and feel about ourselves. Let us first ask ourselves who the hypocrite is. He is a man internally bifurcated – he is different; he wants to look further. He also wants to be good in his eyes, and therefore he looks for situations where it is established how good, and he is. He wants to attract attention with his external deed to cover the dirt of his interior. He is just looking for himself and pretending to be looking for good. He is false to the depths of his heart. He condemns the hypocrisy of others to overshadow his hypocrisy. How many characters have distorted, how much evil they have hidden in families, society, and the world?
Therefore, we must realize that each of us is tempted by hypocrisy. Who among us can say that Jesus’ words do not apply to him: “This person worships me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7: 6). How many of our prayers are unfocused, lukewarm! How many times do we say God’s name in prayer in vain, without the heart’s participation, mechanically and stereotypically! How many words we say without realizing what we are committed to in them! How often do we allow others to say about Christians by our evil example: These are just ordinary hypocrites! We go to church, to various religious events, pilgrimages, we speak very piously. Still, we do not care about the natural God-given duties in the house and work, the care of children and the sick, the witness of faith, i.e., the responsibilities arising from our condition. For true piety is something more meaningful than just “washed hands.” It is to come from a sincere heart, from our inner conviction.
And how do we know if we have in our hearts and authentic faith that will never betray its principles and is miles away from a hypocritical and superficial faith? I think the yardstick is how a person behaves in case of life’s difficulties. For nothing can change a person who is a sincere believer. It’s like a rock in the middle of a stormy sea. Even if they humiliate, slander, ridicule, or consider him a hypocrite, a false pious; nothing can turn him to peace of mind. He loves others as he loved them when they spoke of him nicely. He keeps doing them good, defending them.
St. John Mary Vianney mentions the case of a young man who was an example of a virtuous life. He often went to St. Mass and St. reception. And so, it came to pass that another man began to be jealous of the respect he had in the people. One day, when they were both in the company of an acquaintance who had a beautiful gold watch, a jealous man took it from his pocket and put it in the pocket of a young man who didn’t even notice. When he did so discreetly, he asked his friend if he would show him his watch. He thought he had them in his pocket and was very surprised to find them there. No one could leave the room until they had all been searched. They found her in the pocket of a young man who was a model of virtues. And immediately they all cried out that he was a thief, they began to cast his faith in his eyes and considered him a hypocrite and a false man. The young man could not defend himself when they found them in his pocket. He did not say anything; he endured it all and accepted it, as from God’s hands. Whenever he came out of the church after Holy Mass and Holy Communion and crossed the road, everyone laughed at him for being a hypocrite, a false pious, and a thief. It took quite a long time. Nevertheless, he continued to fulfill his religious duties: confession, communion, all his prayers, as if everyone showed tremendous respect. After a few years, the one who was an honest thief became ill and confessed to all present that he was the cause of all the evil that was said to the young man that he was a true saint, and therefore out of jealousy, he put his watch in his pockets for all to despise.
How many of us would behave like this young man if we were similarly tested? There would be very few of us. How much shouting, anger, vengeful thoughts, slander, cursing, and perhaps a subpoena. Why do we behave like that? For one reason. Because our faith is often a whimsical, customary, traditional, hypocritical faith, we serve a good God only when everything goes according to our ideas and plans. And in trouble, we lose faith, like spring flowers that are burned by the first frost. Let us try to cure this soul disease by the idea of God’s judgment, where everything will be revealed to the whole world. And the ax to this poisonous root of hypocrisy, as to all evil, is humility, which detaches us from ourselves and gives us an accurate picture of ourselves. Let us ask at this Holy Masses for true faith, which will take root deep in our hearts, and so they could address God with their hearts, worship him internally, not just glorify him with their mouths. We can do so at Holy Communion. Let us give our hearts to Him in humility so that we may free ourselves from all hypocrisy and so that we may serve him in the Spirit and truth. Then God, who sees into our hearts, will have love in us.
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