The Pharisees and scribes in today’s Gospel reading were eager to point out the religious traditions that some of the disciples were breaking. Jesus chided them, pointing out that they were more concerned with keeping the traditions than they were with keeping God’s laws. Jesus explained that what is most important is what comes from within a person, and from a person’s heart.
Reflection for Parents
A story passed on by a Native American father to his son describes the torment of two wolves living inside the father’s head. One wolf was evil and vicious. The other was kind and loving. When the son questioned his father about which wolf reacted in certain situations, the father explained that it was whichever wolf he fed.
Reread verses 21-23 from today’s Gospel. Reflect on whether you are feeding any of the attitudes or behaviors listed. Invite God to create a new heart in you and to give you a right spirit. Think about what you can do to feed your heart and spirit so that they grow in generosity, goodness, purity, truth, and faithfulness.
Bringing the Good News Into Your Family
Prepare together several cutout hearts from red construction paper. Write on the hearts, “You have a good heart!” Gather the hearts in a basket, and place the basket on your family prayer table.
Talk with your family about ways you know that a person has a good heart. For example, if a family member takes time to help mom fold laundry without being asked to do so, that family member has a good heart. If another family member donates his or her change to the parish’s ministry to the poor, that person has a good heart.
Invite family members to give a heart to each person they see doing a “good heart” action at home in the coming week. At the end of the week, you may wish to see who has collected the most hearts and to give that person a small prize or a special treat.
- A family rule I find hard to follow is… because...
- A family rule I think is important to follow is… because...
- Someone I know who has a good heart is… because...
Children have learned the importance of following rules. Like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, they often bring to our attention the infractions of others. Even parents sometimes get caught off guard by their children’s observations: “Why don’t you have to go to bed at 8:00?” or “But I saw you eat a cupcake before breakfast once.” Our rules for our children are not arbitrary. We establish and enforce family rules with the intention of helping our children grow to be healthy and mature adults. We foster this maturity when we also initiate conversations with our children about the purposes behind family rules and teach them the essential values that rules help us observe.
As you gather as a family, list some of your most important family rules. Together, try to write a single, positive statement that captures the essential value behind your family rules. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus criticize the Pharisees for making their rules about ritual purity equal to the commandments of God’s Law. Read today’s Gospel, Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23. When we remember the essential element behind our rules, we see that our rules help us be the good people that Jesus wants us to be. Conclude in prayer together that we may always honor God’s Law in our words and deeds. Pray together today’s psalm, Psalm 15.
[from Loyola Press Sunday Connection]