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When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly 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 human precepts as doctrines.’
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
This is the Gospel selection to be read aloud by a priest on the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 17], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will be preceded by one of two pairings of Old Testament and Psalm readings, with the first option placing focus on a love song of Solomon, singing about the adoration of the bride for her bridegroom. The other option tells of Moses’ reminder to the Israelites about never forgetting the laws they had committed to, before they were sent into the Promised Land. Both Psalms sing praises to Yahweh. Those will precede a reading from the Epistle of James, where he wrote, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
I wrote about this reading selection, the last time it came up in the lectionary cycle. I published my opinions in 2018, which can be read by clicking on this link. That commentary addresses this reading as it is, without placing focus on the accompanying readings for this Sunday. I welcome all to read what I published three years ago, because what I wrote then still applies now; but for this exercise, I will focus on how this lesson is reflected in the other lessons, so all are on the same page.
To begin with, the leaders of Jerusalem had approached Jesus as if he were one of them. As Pharisees and scribes, their opinions led all of Judaism at that time. They saw themselves as God’s gift to humanity, with that gift being little more than the right to prance around as if the Jews of the world were the closest things on earth to God. This made the leaders and the writers of Judaic opinion be the little g gods of the greatest religion on earth. It was then the way those prima donnas spoke down to all those Jews they saw breaking any Mosaic Laws [as would a god to the peons below]. It was from that self-aggrandizing position of perfection that this reading begins.
When Jesus quoted Isaiah, that must be seen as Yahweh speaking through a prophet that told why ruin was coming to Judah. The leaders of Judah were saying what the law said, but they were not doing what they said, because their hearts were not into Yahweh. They were not in love with Yahweh; thus they were a people who no longer were souls married to Yahweh. Their “human precepts” were being taught as “doctrines” then, which led to the collapse and ruin of Judah. The Jews had later been freed by the Persians and returned to their former land and capital city; but they came back as underlings to a powerful overlord. The Pharisees and scribes were proving how easy it is to repeat the same mistakes their forefathers had made, which led Jesus to tell them, “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
That assessment (one made by Yahweh, through the Son) becomes the lesson of the Song of Solomon, where the verses sung are those of the ‘bride’s adoration’ for her bridegroom. The metaphor of lovers, in a song of marriage, is divinely intended to be a song of praise from a soul in love with Yahweh, about to become married and begin a true life in His name. To read the words and see the “human precepts” of male domination of a young female; and, to read the words and become aroused by the human desires of sexual anticipation, both lead one to the human doctrines of marriage, between a man and a woman. While the same divine principles should be applied to the human institution of marriage, to ensure human marriage is a union based totally on love and commitment – until death do you part – the reality is “human precepts” always fall short of the intended mark; and, the doctrines of human marriage (as seen in recent times) have a tendency to be misinterpreted and difficult to uphold in a society where everyone is not a follower of Mosaic Laws.
When the reading from Deuteronomy is seen as associated to this statement made by Jesus to the Pharisees and scribes who spoke down on him and his disciples, the point of Moses speaking to the Israelites was to remind them not to let their children, or their children’ children ever reach a state of “human precepts” that would lead to changed “doctrines” which fit the mindset of human beings. That warning was made because Yahweh (speaking through His prophet Moses) knew any soul that was not a wife of Yahweh would fail to understand, much less comply with the wedding vows of their marriage [the Commandments]. That lack of divine marriage would lead to the “abandonment of the commandments of God.”
By understanding this central theme of marriage between a soul and Yahweh, Jesus confirmed that it is impossible to maintain the letter of the Law without the divine assistance that comes from taking Yahweh’s name in marriage. Without the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit to lead a soul to willing and lovingly submit to the Laws, without ever needing to give human thought to how that should be (“human precepts”), there are no vows that matter, because no marriage has taken place. It is then for this reason that Jesus said, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
For a soul not married to Yahweh – one who does not understand – what Jesus said is heard with ears (or read with eyes connecting to a brain) that think in human terms. The omitted verses that speak of eating food that becomes human waste make it harder to see how Jesus was not talking about physical acts in the material world; but “nothing outside” and “things that come out” give the impression of the physicality of ‘what goes in must come out.” This leads to conjuring up ideas – wild imaginations – that have one’s mind leaning towards words heard spoken and words spoken in response. After all, it was the Pharisees and scribes who were speaking ill words of Jesus and his disciples.
The same use of words against Jesus then can be seen as coming from the opposite extreme in the words used today by so many people claiming to be ministers of Jesus. Instead of condemning people because of the Laws (the ‘fire and brimstone’ approach to ministry), they defile themselves by making up “human precepts” that lead to false “doctrines” that say, “If Jesus were here today, he would wrap his arms around the whole wide world and say love every imaginable sin, because the sins were forgiven by Jesus dying on a cross.” [Or, some bullshit like that.] Modern priests and ministers who bend to public opinions and changing social mores (mutations of degeneration), so they fit Scripture to meet their needs, is what Jesus slammed the Pharisees and scribes for doing: “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” What comes out in the form of people saying, “Jesus would say today,” is the same thing back then as the Jewish leaders letting come out, “Moses would say.”
The reason Jesus then clarified by saying, “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person,” is because the “within” is not about physical organs, but a soul. It is a soul that must marry Yahweh, or else it forms a “human heart,” where the Greek word “kardia” means “the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center.” When this “inner self” [a “self” equals a “soul”] is “human” [from the Greek “anthrōpon,” meaning “of man, mankind”], it is not divine. Instead of marriage to Yahweh, a soul has bowed down before the altar of “self,” so one’s god of preference is one’s own ego and one’s own will. When that god proves to be too weak to make any of one’s selfish desires come true, the soul will then marry a demonic spirit, which then makes it possible for all Laws to be broken, leading to acts of: sexual perversion, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, lying, sexual waywardness, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
When Jesus listed all those evil acts, all of which commonly take place in the world, as that which “defiles a person,” the word translated as “person” is once again “anthrōpon,” or “mankind, human race, man.” This says being born as one of “mankind” is why Yahweh chose the spiritual ‘bloodline’ of Patriarchs to always be His wives and serve His needs in the world. Mankind is born flawed, as a soul in a body of flesh cannot keep from being influenced to sin, thereby leading a soul further away from returning to be one with Yahweh in heaven – the eternal life realm. Thus, the human souls must be led to marry Yahweh, so they can enter the protection of the eternal realm, while in the material universe. Only with that protection can one keep from being recycled, through reincarnation [or worse].
This all says that the world is everything that is external to a soul. As long as the world stays outside one’s soul, the world can do no harm. Marriage to Yahweh brings a soul His protective Spirit, which keeps the world external. However, if one brings the world within, one’s soul has just become demonically possessed; and, demonic possession will always lead a soul to commit sins of the flesh. Therefore, the song of marriage to Yahweh and the reminders of Moses to always remain a soul married to Yahweh (and teach your children to do so too, by example) are why those readings are presented along with this Gospel selection.
As the Gospel reading chosen for the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson here is to stop defiling one’s soul. Refusal to marry Yahweh, for human concepts of self: I must serve a work master in order to pay my bills; I must serve my family no matter how much they sin; I must serve my philosophies of politics and religion; and I must serve no beliefs that do not serve my personal needs to climb higher in this world. Everything one does while one’s soul remains unmarried (or disengaged from a planned divine marriage) to Yahweh, with it impossible to be the resurrection of Jesus as the Christ reborn into human flesh, means everything done defiles that soul. A defiled soul cannot pretend to be a minister to Jesus. A defiled soul cannot pretend to speak for him or God. A saved soul is married and faithfully submits to doing the work of Yahweh and Jesus Christ on earth. However, none of that work will be motivations from human precepts or self-imposed doctrines.