Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Believe in the Heart and God, Not Others ***

S. Matthew 15: 1 – 28

O. The “Pharisees and teachers of religious law” have arrived to speak to Jesus.Jesus answers their questions, then teaches the people and the disciples.

A. Jesus is questioned by religious authority about the disobeying of “age-old tradition.” He answers:
“And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says ‘Honor your father and mother.’ . . . But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.”
There are many contradictions in the Bible. Many people try to co-opt scripture for their own benefit or their own purpose. This is what Jesus references here, the inherent contradiction between the will of God, scripture and its purveyors. The only antidote to this contradiction is through forging a deep relationship with God and the Universe.

Jesus references prophecy and parable to reinforce this concept.
“’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.’”
Jesus states two things here that appear contradictory. This is a hallmark of many messages on truth. It is not something that you can lay out with words alone, as words can only lead us to the truth. This is what Jesus is trying to teach here.

Words alone do not matter, if there isn’t the force of belief and faith behind these words. We can go to church and be told countless ideas. Sometimes the words said in church are ‘a farce’ or are ‘man-made ideas’.  We may listen to these ideas, but what really matters is what we do. If we just believe what we’ve been taught, following through on those false teachings, the onus is on us.

How we are and what we do are all that is important. We do not need to fear false teachings; we need only be and do good. It is what is in our hearts that matters.

Jesus explains this parable more in-depth to the disciples.
“Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart – that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander. These are what defile you.”
The internal steps we take before we speak or act are important. These evil steps are equal to murder. If we’re doing something for someone, and in the back of our minds are denigrating that someone, it taints the good that we are doing. We can be in the midst of evil people who use awful words and do awful acts. Yet, these cannot touch us if we do not behave similarly. We must know ourselves as well as we must know God, and let this be our guide through this world.

P. May I not simply go through the motions of faith. May I have a deep connection to God and this Universe. May I not become infected by others’ lack of faith or misunderstanding of faith.

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