14th Sunday After Pentecost, August 30, 2015
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Year B)
Scripture Readings*: Song of Solomon 2:8-13, Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10, James 1:17-27, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
When one falls in love the feeling is like spring. Winter is past, flowers appear, doves “coo,” fig trees begin to show signs of early fruit, and grape vines begin to blossom, emanating an intoxicating fragrance. Everything seems fresh and new. The world is seen from a different perspective, which is how Solomon felt when he was with his beloved.
James admonishes believers not to blame God for temptation in their lives. God only gives “good and perfect” gifts to believers, and does not vary from that principle. It is our desires that are responsible for luring us to disobedience. – He offers three metaphors as to how God’s Word helps us: 1) God’s Word is like a seed that grows into salvation; 2) It is like a mirror that clearly reflects our condition, and; 3) God’s Word is a law that provides freedom.
Finally, James stresses that a true response to God’s Word involves both outward activity and inward control. Ministry to orphans and widows was the outward activity. Separation from the world was evidence of inner control.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Jesus is asked to weigh in on a conflicting matter brought about by his disciples’ failure to wash their hands before eating. For the Pharisees and scribe, it was a matter of ritual impurity.
Jesus’ response to the Jewish leaders was twofold: the leaders invalidated God’s laws in order to keep their human traditions; and sin is a matter of the heart, not the diet. In calling His disciples to heed the weightier matters of God’s law, Jesus affirmed God’s Old Testament revelation as the heritage of the church.
Back to Basics
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus quickly brings us back to priorities. The “law keepers” of his day were concerned about the rituals and appearances of holiness. Jesus cuts through all of that and gets to the heart of the matter – literally and figuratively.
The condition of our heart is what God is concerned with. What happens on the outside is a reflection of what’s taking place on the inside. When we both hear and act upon God’s word, our outward actions will reflect an internal holiness. Our focus is more productive when we get back to basics and turn our attention to the heart of the matter.
Prayer for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost– Loving God, create in my heart a love for Your Name and Holiness, bringing good fruit out of my life; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B