Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.)
So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites—they don’t practice what they preach. As the world continues to face the refugee crisis, war, violence, and poverty, I invite us to experience this world from the eyes of the poor and the suffering, and think about when and where we might have thought and behaved like the Pharisees.
Pope Francis addressed a gathering of a pilgrimage of Catholics and Lutherans from Germany, October 13, 2016, in these words: “It is hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of help. If I say I am a Christian but do these things, then I am a hypocrite.”
Day by day we challenge ourselves to love more and love better. It is in this way that we are truly Christians, truly sisters and brothers in the Kingdom of God.
—Chia-Yang Kao, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Maryland province, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.
For Those Who Seek Refuge in Our Land
you were born in flight,
your parents anxious and given no rest.
The manner of your birth calls us to
open-heartedness and sensitivity to the strangers in our midst.
Help us not to flee your challenge.
The violence of the present time teaches us fear of the stranger,
reluctant to reach out to those who are different.
Grace us this day as we seek
to see you in the faces of those uprooted,
weary, as they seek refuge and peace.
Root out fear from our souls;
Help us form the words
‘Sister’ and ‘Brother’
as we greet those who seek refuge in our land.
Let us remember that,
with your grace,
there are enough loaves and fishes
to go around
if we come together
as your family.
Give us the courage
and the compassion
to respect the rights of all
in this land of abundance,
to embrace all in
the name of your love.
—from a prayer of the Australian Jesuits