Twenty-second Sunday in
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5
Second Reading - James 1:17-18
Gospel - Mark 7:1-8, 114-15, 21-23
Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. - For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. - So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy 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 as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." He summoned the crowd again and said to then, "Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.
"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile."
I love Italians. I love desserts. But I do NOT love Italian desserts. Italians know espresso, they know limoncello, and yes, they even know pasta, but they do NOT always know desserts. Appearances can be deceiving, the externals do not always represent what is on the inside. Jesus was criticizing the people for getting caught up in externals without being motivated by the heart. St. James in the 2nd reading does just the opposite - - - the inner motivation of the heart should reveal itself in our external deeds. What's the moral of the story? Italian desserts. While studying in Rome I'd pass by windows of shops that had the most DELECTABLE looking treats, meringue delicacies with whipped sugar . . . who could resist something like that? So I immediately stopped, bought the best-looking pastry for a couple Euro's, and took a bite . . . and was AMAZED to learn that great-looking pastries really CAN taste like cardboard!
The outside should reflect the inside. Because we've all had adventures like I had at the pastry shop, we can almost expect the opposite. When I fist visited St. Philip's, I was struck by the peaceful scenery and location. And so I truly WAS SURPRISED to learn that the people reflect the same peace and beauty from within! It's always nice when something actually IS the way it LOOKS.
Obviously, our dear Deacon Thomas has seen something amazing in St. Philip's. He's positive that the parish is something BEAUTIFUL, something worth checking out! He wants to show others the beauty he has seen here at 7500 St. Philip's Court, so in a couple weeks, He's bringing 40 other seminarians to spread the joy of the parish to others in the neighborhood, in an massive visitation advertising Fall Festival. They're going to go around and proudly show how attractive St. Philip's IS! Rather flattering! But what does this mean for US?
I think the answer lies in the Italian Dessert. If we're going to LOOK so delectable and delightful, then we probably SHOULD BE. IN THE HEART, and that should show itself in our deeds. And I don't think that will be very hard, given what I've experienced for over a year now. People here really DO love their parish, they really ARE proud to show others that they belong to St. Philip's. Consequently, when someone takes a taste of the parish, they wouldn't be tasting cardboard, but instead, they'd get a taste of Heaven.
Now, don't get me wrong, I know it's not perfect (otherwise I'd be out of a job!) But I STILL THINK that others can experience the Heaven of God's love . . . through what we already have, Jesus Himself. Because Jesus already HAS changed our hearts, we are willing to SHOW it. What husband hasn't given their wife a kiss in public? What mother hasn't given her children a hug at the entrance to school? What family hasn't shown OTHERS how much they love each other? Well, the time has come - - - we're BEGGING each of you, consider SHOWING how much you love your parish family, by standing up and walking with us on Saturday the 15th with 40 other future priests. Walk with us and show Falls Church how much our Lord has given you. Walk with us, because others EXPECT the clergy to do this, but they are AMAZED when they see the laity on fire! We're inviting you, we need EACH of you - - - for when others see YOU, they will see the BEAUTY of Jesus' love in the faces of his friends . . . and that's a treat too sweet to pass up!