22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: MARK 7: 1-8
In the gospel, we heard Jesus challenges the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy; they worried more about how they cleansed their hands than how they cleansed their hearts. The Pharisees and scribes always gave more importance to the unnecessary laws, rituals, and traditions; but the important things they forgot and neglected, such as taking care of the human needs. But Jesus was not worried about unnecessary laws, rituals, and traditions; Jesus gave more importance to the needs of the people, such as loving, forgiving, being merciful, and showing compassion and kindness to everyone.
A popular writer, Wayne Dyer, told a story – while he was preparing to speak at a conference, he decided to bring an orange onto the stage. Before he started his talk, he asked a question to a young man, who was sitting in the front row. “If I were to squeeze this orange as hard I could, what would come out?” The young man said, “Juice.” Again, he asked him, “Do you think apple juice could come out of it?” He replied, “No” Again, he asked, “What about grape juice?” He said, “No.” Again, he asked, “What would come out of it?” He replied, “Orange juice.” It is true, when we squeeze an orange, the orange juice will come out, because that is what is inside of the orange.
We can assume, instead of orange juice, when someone squeezes you, what would come out? If inside of your life is anger, hatred, bitterness, depression, or anxiety, these are the things that will come out. Once you take away all these negative things from your life and replace them with love, joy, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness, these are the things that will come out from your lives. What is inside is up to each person’s choice! So let us ask ourselves, what is inside of me, today? If someone squeezed me, what will come out?
That is why Jesus said to the Pharisees: “All these evils come from within, and they defile.” The Pharisees, they cleaned the outside of the cup and dish, but their insides were full of pride, corruption, selfishness, ego, and greed. Jesus challenged the Pharisees, clean the inside of your lives, then the outside also will be clean. We all have a little bit of hypocrisy in our lives, and we all need to clean up the insides of our personal lives, clean up the inside of the church, and clean up among the leaders of the church. We should admit our sinful actions and our human weakness, and we should try to change by the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, keep our faith and trust in God and God is in charge, and do not be afraid!
Today’s gospel message encourages and invites us to live our lives more deeply in the life of Jesus. Let us listen to our hearts, where we encounter the living God. Let us face the spiritual battle every day of our lives. In this battle, we must fight against all that would make less our relationships with God and our brothers and sisters. Let us clean the “cups of our hearts” first, and then clean the outside of the cups. Let us commit ourselves to love our God and our brothers and sisters by expressing this love through our works of charity and mercy!
Let us follow the words of St. Mother Teresa, “Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit — and man is his own gardener.” As our own gardener, we need to take charge of our thoughts!