Jesus shows us the new that one has yet to see or hear or think of. To be his disciples, we have to make a fresh start.
The Pharisees and scribes ask Jesus why his disciples do not follow the tradition of the elders. It is because the disciples eat with hands that are not clean; they do not wash them first. And his answer is also a call. He calls on the guardians of the law, the people too, to make a fresh start.
But such a call is also for us disciples. For we are not always quick to welcome the new that our Teacher announces. We were warned about this in the gospel last Sunday.
It told us that many disciples went back to their old life; they no longer walked with him. His teaching was too much, so new, even shocking. To accept it, they would have to make new, fresh, the way they were and behaved.
Today’s gospel is about, yes, the question of our leaving Jesus. The new amazes us, but amazement comes and goes, and turns into rejection (Mk 1, 26; 6, 1-6). The “hosanna” becomes “crucify him” (Mk 11, 10; 15, 13. 14).
And old customs and traditions die hard. They also wield power and sway. On those of us, in particular, who fear being considered outcasts.
But it is even harder for us to break with “we-have always-done-it-this-way” (EG 33) if to keep it means to look good before others. Fit to get greetings, praises, honor, power (EG 277). And such titles as “Defenders of the Faith” and “Protectors of the People,” so that these may not stray from the right path.
Do we like to start fresh and yet enjoy, at the same time, the goods that keeping the tradition brings?
No, we are not few, those of us who want to see to it that we have the best of both worlds. We want to serve God and money. To serve and be served; clericalism still stains us (EG 102). We still have to grasp what St. Vincent did, namely, “that a true life of faith fills the soul to the brim in a way that has no limit.” Hence, “all yearning and craving for earnings, promotion and security” are not needed.
Yes, at odds are the old life and the new life, to which Jesus calls us. Patchwork is of no use; one pours new wine into fresh skins (Mk 2, 21-22; TWVDP 53).
So then, we have to let the Spirit make new our inmost being; we must put on the new self (Eph 4, 23-24). It is our task to “strip ourselves of the old Adam in order to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ” (SV.EN XI:850).
For Jesus embodies the new; near him, we get to know a different life. The new life, in which creative love is above all rules, all laws of nature and physics, all traditions (SV.EN X:478; SV.EN XI:131). The whole and pure life of religion and charity (SV.EN VI:413), till the body is given up and blood is shed.
Lord Jesus, create for us clean hearts; put steadfast and fresh hearts in us. Thus, no evil will come from within us.
29 August 2021
22nd Sunday in O.T. (B)
Dt 4, 1-2. 6-8; Jas 1, 17-18. 21b-22. 27; Mk 7, 1-8. 14-15. 21-23