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Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from the Gospel of Mark 12:38-40.

Jesus denounces the Scribes – Mark 12:38-40

In the course of his teaching he [Jesus] said,

“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.

They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.

In today’s reading we see Jesus admonishing his listeners to be aware of the scribes who wear long robes, accept greetings in public places, long for seats of honor in synagogues, places of honor at banquets, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers and devour the houses and properties of hapless widows.

The constant fault finding by the pharisees was really irksome to Jesus. In Mark 7:1-23 and in Matthew 15:1-20 we see Jesus speaking against the Pharisees’ narrow, legalistic, and external practices of piety in matters of purification, external worship, and observance of commandments.

The Tradition of the Elders – Mark 7:1-23

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 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. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles [and beds].)

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

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.”

He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’

Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God),

you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.

You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable.

He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles.

From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.

All these evils come from within and they defile.”

The Tradition of the Elders – 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? They do not wash [their] hands when they eat a meal.”

He said to them in reply, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’

But you say, ‘Whoever says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is dedicated to God,” need not honor his father.’

You have nullified the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you when he said:

‘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.’”

He summoned the crowd and said to them,

“Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”

Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”

He said in reply,

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.

Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.”

Then Peter said to him in reply, “Explain [this] parable to us.”

He said to them, “Are even you still without understanding?

Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine?

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile.

For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy.

These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

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