This Sunday’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–8
Psalm 15:2–3, 3–4, 4–5 (℟ 1a)
James 1:17–18, 21b–22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14–15, 21–23
IN ORDINARY TIME, the second reading usually does not relate to the other readings since it is semi-continuous, proclaimed from one chapter to the next over a course of weeks. On this Sunday, however, the second reading from James gives us a wonderful lens through which to understand the law-heavy passage from Mark.
Concerned that his disciples have neglected some of the Jewish religious traditions, the Pharisees question Jesus. And he immediately calls them hypocrites! Why? Is Jesus throwing out religious law or letting his disciples slide? Hardly. He’s calling them (and us) to true observance of it. Here, we need to look up the Marcan verses omitted from the lectionary pericope. In verses 9 to 13, Jesus calls out these Pharisees for picking and choosing which laws to follow. And worse, he says they have nullified God’s law by distorting religious practices for their own gain.
Here’s where James helps us understand Jesus’s message. Religious practice that is pure does two things. First, it calls us to care for those most in need. Second, it stands as witness and invitation to others to do the same. Religious piety and practice that becomes about anything else make us not only hypocrites but idolaters who honor the law but despise God’s own. Even in the hearts of people of faith, evil can still reside.
The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
The text of today’s psalm response seems simple enough, but not as simple to act upon. How can we “do” justice? Doing justice looks different for each of us based on our culture, our community, and our individual situations, but we are reminded today that part of being a faithful disciple is committing yourself to community with your brothers and sisters. As with anything else, we won’t be perfect at it, but using our faith as a foundation will help us know how we can bring the love of God to all of our sisters and brothers. When you do justice, you do the work of God.
More choral suggestions for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time…
A New Commandment Steven R. Janco Unison choir, descant, assembly, opt. flute or C instrument, keyboard 005773
Al Partir el Pan/When We Break This Bread Pedro Rubalcava Two- or Three-part choir, cantor, assembly, 2 trumpets, 2 violins, guitar, keyboard 012642
Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast Roy Johnson SATB, organ G-2968
Doing Justice James V. Marchionda, OP SATB, cantor, assembly, 2 trumpets, guitar, keyboard 007690
Dos Cantos para las Procesiones/Two Processional Songs Pedro Rubalcava Two- or three-part choir, descant, cantor, assembly, opt. guitar, opt. keyboard 012531
In God’s Time M.D. Ridge SATB, descant, guitar, keyboard 008889
Justice Shall Grow and Flourish/Justus ut Palma Florebit Richard Proulx Unison choir, organ 009608
O God of Light Richard Kenneth Fitzgerald SATB, keyboard G-5931
Teach Me the Way Thomas Weitzel SATB, assembly G-3887
Tesoros Ocultos/Treasures Out of Darkness Alan Revering, Arr. Peter Kolar SATB, cantor, assembly, opt. flute, oboe, horn in F, guitar, keyboard 012671
The Wisdom of Christ William L. Wallace & Mark Scozzafave SAB, cantor, assembly, opt. flute & violin, guitar, keyboard 008997
Victory Is Ours Desmond Tutu & Thomas Keesecker SATB, opt. solo, guitar, keyboard 009009