Gospel readings can deliver so many messages, depending on time and place. Todays is no different, and the time is just before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and the disciples do not wash their hands before their meal. Strangely, this reading can be linked to yesterday’s , where Jesus asks Peter to leave the shallows and push off into deeper waters. The washing of hands is shallow, it occurs on the surface. Sure, it has value. It is a reminder to be holy, but it barely scratches the surface. For Jesus his disciples are to go deeper into their faith, and that means leaving the rituals that ornament their faith, and journey to its essence. Emphasis on this will continue tomorrow when Jesus again asks his disciples to remove themselves from exterior expressions, and delve into the interior of prayer. To journey into the essence of their faith.
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
(For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.