Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jesus loved the Pharisees, which is why he had so many discussions with them. Jesus loved the Pharisees, which is why he hung on a cross for them. Jesus loved the Pharisees, even when He uses a quote from Isaiah to refer to them as hypocrites. That is something to remember when one approaches their discussion concerning “cleanliness.”  In that discussion, the Pharisees use their legalese regarding the purity of hands and vessels. They confront Jesus about His disciple’s disobedience to these laws. In rebuttal Jesus spews a quote from Isaiah describing them as hypocrites. It is a harsh and hurtful quote that comes from the LORD, and that is the reason I emphasize Jesus’s love for those Pharisee’s. Jesus’s harshness is to bring about a healing, it is to cleanse their internal spirit just as the washing of their hands cleanses their body. It is a reminder of the reason for their laws, the purity of body gives emphasis to the diligence needed to maintain the purity of spirit. It is a reminder that their souls are precious, and that the body is a mere vessel. Those laws were a ritual reminder to maintain a clean spirit, and that is something they apparently had forgotten.

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.”

To better understand this exchange, I thought I would look up a pivotal word in the discussion, and that word is hypocrite. In the quote Jesus implies those Pharisee are hypocrites. What exactly is a hypocrite and where does that word come from? Hypocrisy come from the Greek hypokrisis, and that translates jealous, play-acting, coward, and dissembling. Hypocrite, Greek hypokrites, is associated with judgement and has a theatrical element. It relates to the dramatic performance of an actor. Another interpretation of the word is hypo for under, and krinenin for shift or decide. The origin of the word conjurers up images of drama and theatrical interpretation. In its origin the word is definitely related to a public performance, either that of rhetoric or the drama of an actor. It is what is presented to the world, and not the sincerity of contemplative thought. It is drama and not truth. It is persuasion and not discernment, influence and not contemplation. In truth the actions of the hypocrite is directed at influencing others. Jesus’s rebuttal to the Pharisees’ concerned their acting holy, rather than being holy; and the true purpose of the law was to bring them towards holiness. A clean heart the LORD will not spurn. The Pharisees acted holy, but Jesus wanted more from them. He wanted them to be Holy. There is a difference

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

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