Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 27: Year 1
Morning, Psalm 80; Evening, Psalm 77;
Nehemiah 9: 1 to 25; Revelation 18:1 to 8; Matthew 15:1-20
“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.” (Matthew 15: 1 and 2)
These temple authorities travel from Judah up to Galilee only to point out what they believe is a minor transgression against the law. Jesus will point out that they themselves have perverted the will of God by creating human covenants that subvert the Law of God.
The issue is about food and clean hands. Jesus points out that it is not food that pollutes us but rather the self serving sin of our own egos that pollute us. Therefore, if we petition God to clean our hearts (because only God can), we will be better off and not defiled, or at least, less defiled. But we must first want it. This is why we pray:
“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP page 355)
God waits patiently for us to decide what we want. It matters more about what we want than what we do. Perhaps we shouldn’t eat with unwashed hands. I know that. But we also must stop being selfish, racist, cheaters, thieves and murderers; for these atrocities are far worse than eating with unwashed hands. And even if the body is poisoned, a clean soul will have our Lord to save us and bring us to be with Him. So that where He is, we will be with Him also. Let us get our hearts on the right path.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John