One day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. Now, the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe, for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked him, â€śWhy do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?â€ť Jesus answered, â€śYou shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote: The people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules. You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.â€ť Jesus then called the people to him again and said to them, â€śListen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.â€ť
â€”Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Everything God created is good and beautiful. It is up to us if we continue to make the world around us good and beautiful. Love is the ultimate law that should govern our relationships with God and the whole of creation. Along the development of human civilizations, humankind has to be orderly in everything, thus, the laws, rites, mores, morals were crafted to serve as matrix and guide to human living. Traditions and practices also evolved and are still being observed by people and communities.
Following the law is good when it brings order and strengthens the person and his/ her community. But merely observing and implementing the law is not enough. The law must have a heart that is shared by all. Laws are made by humans and crafted, it is not perfect. The law helps you attain the highest good and that is the exercise of love.
It is the same with traditions. What comes from the human heart and human mind are good if the law is created for the good of all. The purpose of the law is to exercise freedom in the highest level. We need the law to ensure order and harmony as everyone is invited to observe the law and keep it. As a result, we are free to do what we ought to do as human beings in the world.
But what kind of law have we made that is being followed by us and by other people. Are our laws and traditions really helpful in our everyday living? Or do we just observe them for the sake of observing and keeping? As a result of observing the law, our practices and traditions, have we become better persons and citizens of the world?
In the gospel, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law asked Jesus why his disciples did not observe the law and the cleansing ritual before they ate? Why did they eat with unclean hands? The tradition had been violated, they said. Jesus retorted that observing or not observing the law is not the question that must be given weight but rather, the effects after one had observed the law. What is impure and unclean is not that which we take inside us but the ones that came out from us, from our hearts.
We have just lost a public servant who was a law-abiding citizen and dedicated public servant whose life is being exemplified as a hero and an inspiration. We grieved for the passing away of Secretary Jessie Robredo. He observed the law and was guided by good tradition of good governance. Threads in blogs and tweets carried different and extreme opinions but the common remark is that Secretary Robredo lived his life to the fullest.
He made changes in his home city Naga and in the local government units during his short stint as DILG Secretary. He fought corruption at all levels even if it was very difficult and meant taking the unpopular path. The honorable man from Naga walked his talk. He was an observer of the law and implementor of the law, unlike the modern-day Pharisees and teachers of the law of our times who are still around pestering the lives of our people and the nation.
Let us remember what makes â€śa person unclean, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.â€ť Corruption of all sorts is a sin of commission and of omission.
Let us pause for a moment of silence, and ask ourselves:
Do I think and evaluate first my thoughts, ideas, and words before I utter them?
Do I observe and follow the will of God thru the relevant laws and living traditions that lead me to Him?
Do I love God and neighbors and am I inspired to do small and great things as I observe, keep, and follow the Law of Love?
Prayer: Almighty God, help us see the right way to holiness and keep our hearts pure so that we may proclaim You rightly. In our world full of sarcasm and indifference, help us to be good preachers of truth and witnesses of your love. Wash our unclean desires and doings so that we can change our mindsets and â€śheartsetsâ€ť and just announce pure and loving thoughts and words. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen.