Prayer of the Day
Feast of St. ScholasticaFebruary 10th, 2015
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands,that is without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms to the elbow, and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and Scribes asked him, ‘’Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’’He answered, ‘’ It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah prophesied in this passage of scripture:
Those people honour me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
Controversy about Ritual Purity is the focus in this section of the Gospel. It begins with a challenge from the Pharisees and scribes regarding the disciples’ failure to observe the tradition of not washing their hands before eating. Jesus is familiar with such controversy and his criticism is very direct.’’ You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’’ And he said to them ‘’How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own traditions.’’ The passage draws a sharp contrast between the divine teaching and the teaching of the Pharisees. Jesus goes further ‘’In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many more things like this.’’ Jesus’ directness is a call to discern God’s observance, to know the divine from the human.