The Gospel Today
Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
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?”
“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 someone 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.”
Reflection (Sem. Leonides Jimmy T. Jesuro III)
Today’s Gospel is entitled, the “Tradition of the Elders.” The Pharisees are questioning why Jesus’ disciples are breaking the tradition of the elders about washing one’s hands before eating. The purpose of the hand washing is to remove defilement caused by contact with the ritually unclean. Aside from this tradition, equally important is for children to honor their father and their mother. The honoring of one’s parents has to do with supporting them in their needs.
Jesus Christ brings the enlightenment, not setting aside the commandment of God, to uphold one’s tradition. In today’s context, we are challenged to be more faithful to what God expects us to carry out, one of which is The Ten Commandments, or Decalogue.
Allow me to share a story of a friend who was disrespectful to his mother. The mother used to work in a reputable company until she was among those who were laid off. My friend was about to finish high school when it happened, and the limited resources they had in the family became an issue to his personality make-up. He hated his mother for not providing for his needs and was blaming her for all the miserable life events he had to go through.
He was able to finish college by working. He swore to himself that he would have big achievements in life, and his mother would not be a part of it.
I would occasionally ask about his family, and he would not elaborate so much on it, especially about his mother. I took the liberty to share with him some nuggets of wisdom, especially about what the Bible says in honoring our parents.
I noticed that all those times he harbored ill feelings towards his mother, success and happiness were elusive for him. He almost did not finish college due to an incomplete grade for CWTS. He would find difficulty landing a job, or if he had, he would not stay long in one company. He almost got killed in a vehicular accident. He always complained of the seeming absence of God’s presence in his life. He was in constant search for meaning in his life.
It was only when I invited him to join me in a prayer community that he was able to see the shortcoming he was into. He realized that he missed opportunities and graces of God for him while he bore a heavy grudge against his mother. By God’s grace and the prayers of the community, my friend was able to reconcile with his mother and was deeply sorry to her for his misconduct.
I have realized that if I want to have peace in my life, I must learn to disarm or purify myself with unnecessary things: pride, painful experiences of the past, hurtful words, and unbecoming attitudes. If I make it a point to avoid conflict in favor of unity and if I am grateful to God for everything that comes my way, God will flood my life with His peace, grace and love.