Day Eighteen: Sunday, March 4

Mark 7:1- 23
Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together to him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of his disciples eating bread with defiled, that is unwashed, hands, they found fault. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews don’t eat unless they wash their hands and forearms, holding to the tradition of the elders. They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to: washings of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.) The Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?”

He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me.
But they worship me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

“For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He said to them, “Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’

But you say, “If a man tells his father or his mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban,'” that is to say, given to God, “then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this.”

He called all the multitude to himself, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. There is nothing from outside of the man, that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man .If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

When he had entered into a house away from the multitude, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Are you also without understanding? Don’t you perceive that whatever goes into the man from outside can’t defile him, because it doesn’t go into his heart, but into his stomach, then into the latrine, making all foods clean?” He said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins, murders, thefts, covetings, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

Mark’s placement of the controversy highlights the disingenuousness of the legalists’ critique. Jesus was wildly popular in the rural areas among the common people. No sooner did he get out of a boat than people recognized him and started running about, gathering the sick on mats and bringing them to him and begging him for permission to touch the fringe of his garment. These people were desperately seeking Jesus. And Jesus was well received by Gentiles. In marked contrast, the Pharisees and some of the scribes from Jerusalem came as critics. These members of the establishment traveled out from the city to observe and investigate, perhaps in order to make a report on all the commotion. When they spied some of Jesus’ disciples eating bread without washing their hands, they pounced on this technical infraction of tradition. This calls forth a powerful response from Jesus.
(Stephen W. Ramp, The Lectionary Commentary: The Third Readings: The Gospels, p. 223)

Day Nineteen: Monday, March 5
Day Seventeen: Saturday, March 3