Jesus condemns the Pharisees’ evil ways after they attempt to rebuke Him. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Piety so he can more fully observe and cherish the Traditions of the Church and by growing in the Virtue of Obedience so he can be obedient to his parents, the Church and just civil authority.

Liturgy

5th Week in Ordinary Time – Tuesday – Mk 7:1-13

Commentary

As news of Jesus’ reputation grows, the religious leaders of Jerusalem send men to judge and discredit Him. The Pharisees (meaning, “separated ones”) were a powerful Jewish renewal movement within Israel that enforced strict ritual codes to keep Jews from being defiled by the Roman occupiers, hoping to gain God’s favor and restore Israel to political independence. The Pharisees developed stringent rituals which took the Laws of Moses to extremes, causing them to blindly focus on minute ritual details and forget mercy.   

Confronting Jesus, Pharisee scribes (experts in the Law) accuse His disciples of failing to keep the Pharisee’s strict hand-washing rituals; they are not primarily concerned about hygiene but take issue with lax religious discipline. Jesus vehemently responds, calling the Pharisees, hypocrites (“pretenders”), and condemning them of arrogant rebellion against God, using the words of Isaiah (Is 29:13). 

Broadening His attack, Jesus harshly condemns the Pharisees’ sinful practice of using their self-righteous financial offerings at the Temple (Corban) as an excuse to avoid their responsibility to care for their aging parents. Citing Moses, Jesus warns the Pharisees that their failure to care for the financial needs of their parents breaks The 4th Commandment (“Honor thy father and mother…”), a sin that leads to the condemnation of the sinner. Jesus further broadens His condemnation to include the Pharisees’ arrogant manufacturing of traditions which oppose God’s Word. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Consider with awe the fierceness of Jesus as He Aggressively confronts the Pharisees and scribes who have come to judge Him: refusing to be intimidated by the power and influence of the Pharisees, Jesus speaks Truth with tremendous Courage (a part of Fortitude), knowing they will eventually murder Him; He argues from the Authority (Ethos, a part of Reason) of ancient Scripture (Isaiah) to Harshly Condemn the Pharisees and their religious practices as unjust, Insulting them as hypocrites (pretenders); the perfection of Piety (a part of Justice by which elders are to be esteemed), He condemns the Pharisees well-established religious practices as being in direct opposition to the word of God. 

Observe and cherish the Traditions of the Church

Realize: Though Jesus justly condemns the false, man-made traditions of the Pharisees, today, many mistakenly use this Scripture passage in a failed attempt to undercut the validity of Catholic tradition (Latin: traditionnem, “a handing down”), arguing that Scripture is the only valid source of guidance; ironically, all the Scripture in the New Testament was derived from the oral traditions of the Church which were not written down until decades after Christ’s Ascension. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Tradition of the Church (CCC 74-100).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Piety (a part of Justice) so I always cherish and fervently observe the traditions Your Son gave the Holy Catholic Church and that were preserved by Your holy saints throughout the centuries. 

Be obedient to parents, the Church and just authority

Realize: Since the evil rebel Satan seduced Adam to rebel against God, Satan has continued to instigate rebellion against the authority of God and against earthly authority, including parents, the Church, country, laws and enforcement, tradition, institutions, moral law, social norms, etc.; to help protect human society against anarchy, God blessed men with The 4th Commandment. 

Believe: Reflect upon The 4th Commandment (CCC 2197-2257).

Pray: Jesus, Son of Joseph and Mary, help me build the Virtue of Obedience (a part of Justice) so I reject Satan’s temptations to rebel and always seek to be obedient to my parents, to the Holy Catholic Church and to the just authority and laws in the country in which I live.