22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Call to worship

Today’s Gospel makes it clear that Jesus’ followers must do more than simply follow tradition and obey the law. Those who seek to know God and to follow Christ must have pure hearts.

To the point: Central to today’s gospel is the question, where does the heart lie? Jesus teaches that observance of the Law and tradition is not an end in itself but an indication of where the heart lies. External actions reveal the internal desire to remain faithful to our covenantal relationship with God. Jesus calls us to the true purpose of the Law: a heart centered on God.

Connecting the Gospel (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23) to the first reading: Moses’ teaching about the wisdom of the Law reminds the people where the heart of God lies: close to them. The purpose of our observance of the Law is to keep our hearts close to God. Jesus chides the Pharisees and scribes in the gospel for having strayed far from this understanding.

Connecting the Gospel to our experience: Laws become ends in themselves when we forget their real purpose. It’s far easier simply to keep a law than it is to understand its purpose and make its spirit part of our values and life orientation.

Centering prayers

The Gospel 

(Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Lord, dwell in our hearts.
When we tend the sick, feed the hungry,
make clean your planet,
be within us so that all that we do,
we do in your love.
Stretch us, please.
Let us reach out to our neighbor
when we are too busy or much too tired.
Let the world know we are your disciples
not because our hands are clean,
but because they are dirty
with the mark of all your children.

The First Reading

(Deuteronomy 4: 1-2, 6-8)

“For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it
as the Lord our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?”

What galaxy can exist without your laws?
Placing moons securely in their place,
making black holes from spent stars.
Could we ever live for one instant,
or move or have our being, if
you, O God, creator of the universe, did not hold
each of us ever in your love? 
Make us live your law: to love you
and love our neighbor.

The Second Reading

(James 1: 17-18, 21b-22, 27)

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word
and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Lord, let your Word grow in our hearts like
ivy plants invading the garden.
Let it take us to the poor wherever we find them:
the hungry, the sick and the lonely,
the surrounding air; all crying for cleansing:
the war-torn, homeless, jobless, 
the imprisoned, and dying ––
All who wait for us to be “doers”
spreading your Word.

Copyright © 2021, Anne M. Osdieck

Music for reflection