Fifth Tuesday of Ordinary Time



Fifth Tuesday of Ordinary Time

February 11, 2020

WORD of the DAY

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him,   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 went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!”                                 (Mark 7: 1-8)

How shall I live this Word?

 The term ‘hypocrite’ did not have the moral connotation at that time which it later took on, but indicated the theater actor, the mask of the theater actor. It would therefore be necessary to translate it as ‘actors’; “You are comedians, all your pretense of religion is only a theater.”   And the accusation that is taken by the prophet Isaiah says: This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. So the religiosity of the lips, made of words and the multiplication of discourses is a form of religiosity all intent on the external aspect, on personal gain: it is theater, it is ‘human tradition’. The religiosity of the heart, on the other hand, sees the human being open to accepting the Word and His command, that command which Jesus summarizes in love: “Love one another as I have loved you.”.

Keep me always in Your Heart, Lord!

The voice of Pope Francis, The Gospel of Pope Francis, Vatican Publishing 2017

Jesus’ answer has the strength of a prophetic pronouncement: “By neglecting the commandment of God, you observe the tradition of men.”  These are words that fill us with admiration for our Teacher.  We feel that there is truth in Him and that His wisdom frees us from prejudices. But be careful! With these words, Jesus also wants to warn us today that external observance of the Law is not sufficient to be good Christians. As then for the Pharisees, there is also a danger for us to feel good or, worse, better than the others simply by observing the rules, customs, even if we do not love our neighbor, if we are hard of heart, proud, haughty.  The literal observance of the precepts is something sterile, if it does not change the heart and does not translate into concrete attitudes …”


Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Via dell’Ateneo Salesiano 81, 00139 Rome, Italy E-mail:  Website:

Blog:    Comment by Sr. Monica Gianoli, FMA



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