The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle B for the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time is Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. 

As news of Christ’s many miracles and powerful preaching grows, the religious leaders of Jerusalem send out men to discredit Him. The Pharisees (meaning, “separated ones”) were a powerful Jewish renewal movement within Israel that sought to enforce strict ritual codes to keep Jews from being defiled by the Roman occupiers, hoping to gain God’s favor and restore Israel to independence. Pharisees developed stringent personal rituals and traditions which took the Laws of Moses to extremes and caused them to focus on ritual details while forgetting mercy.   

Confronting Christ, Pharisee scribes (experts in the Law) accuse His disciples of failing to keep the Pharisee’s hand washing rules; they are unconcerned about hygiene but take issue with lax religious discipline. Christ viciously responds, calling the Pharisees, hypocrites (“pretenders”), condemning them of being in arrogant rebellion to God using the words of Isaiah (Isa 29:13). 

Christ reveals that outer acts of evil come from within a man (the heart); in the biblical sense, the heart is the center of a man from which good and evil decisions originate that lead to holy or sinful deeds. Christ points to the greater spiritual truth that a man’s true defilement is sinfulness brought on by an impure heart: “evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” Because of these kinds of vices, men must repent and undergo a conversion of their heart to fulfill their true purpose of loving of God and neighbor. 

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ gives the Commandments to men and does not tolerate the breaking of the Commandments. Son of Man, Christ courageously and aggressively confronts and condemns those in power who sin. Divine Teacher, Christ has mastery of all wisdom, concisely summarizes errors and effortlessly quotes Scripture to correct the errant. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Despite the risks of taking on the powerful Pharisees, Christ aggressively confronts and condemns them. Marvel at the Perfection of Virtue as Christ exhibits undaunted courage in the face of sin. 

2) Christ condemns the false, man-made traditions of the Pharisees and some who are ignorant use this passage in an attempt to undercut Catholic tradition. Understand the God-given validity of the Tradition of the Church (CCC 74-100) and ask Christ to help you grow in obedience and love of the Church. 

3) Christ calls men to inner conversion, confirming that men must purify their hearts. Read about Purification of the Heart (CCC 2517-2519) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in purity.