Lenten Reflection - Mark 7:1-23 by Gary Duck
“7 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles) 5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” 6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” 14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) 20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:1-23
Here it is a couple of days past the mid-point of Lent. So how is your Lent going? Are you engaging in “the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word”? Jesus and Isaiah had my number when they observed, “These people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
It is not that I don't want to observe a holy Lent, but the “rules” of secular life seem to have overcome God's call to special observances during this time. It takes incredible discipline and effort to stop and replace “important” human activities to make a place for God in my life. We don't have a television which is a good thing. But my computer is such a time sucker. That is what I need to turn off and turn aside for some serious time with God; read some scripture, spend some time in silence or prayer or, best of all, silent prayer in God's presence.
I don't do well under the best of circumstances. Maybe this comes from my youth when, in my family, church was something you did Sunday morning and did not think about again until next Sunday. My parents did not have a real spiritual life that I could learn to emulate. But Lent is a time that calls me and all of us to make that extra effort, to consciously decide to lay aside our daily cares and activities to spend some time with God.
Are you making a special space for God this Lent? Are you modeling a Holy Lent for children in your home? What are the big time wasters that you need to get under control?