Proper 17- Year B

Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; (or Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-7; Psalm 15); James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

“To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

                What is sacred and holy?  What is not sacred and holy?  What religious procedures keep us spiritually clean, the neglect of which make us spiritually unclean?  This is the battle between the sacred and the profane.  The Pharisees in today’s Gospel had all this figured out.  They even knew how to wash their dishes in order to make God happy (Mark 7:3-4).  To say that some things, or ways of doing, are sacred, and others profane, is called dualistic thinking.  Now, don’t we all do that at times?  Do we ever mock the religious practices of others, whether they are Christian fundamentalists or Muslims?  Do we ever scoff at the opposing political party?  That’s an American religious activity second only to baseball. Jesus’ way of thinking was more unitive.  The Hebrew tradition, based on the creation story (Genesis 1), saw all of creation as good, even very good (Genesis 1:31).  The Incarnation, our Christmas celebration of God being enfleshed in the world, tells us of God’s love and acceptance of all that is.  God thinks it good to make his home here.  Some might think the Emerson quote above is a bit arrogant, especially the part about “all men divine.”  (Please excuse Emerson’s sexist language.)  Yet even this idea has early Christian roots in that ancient prayer that says “Grant that we may share in the divine life of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 214)  We and the rest of creation are not so holy by our own efforts.  Everything is holy because it is saturated by God, by divinity.  Jesus says the problem is what comes out of us, out of our hearts, that distorts this reality (Mark 7:20-21).  Can we see the good in those different from us?  Today let’s check out the world and see God making all things work for good, even those that jar us.


                The Greek in today’s Gospel is pretty straight forward.  However, there is a unique expression in Mark 7:22.  Almost all translations use the word “envy.”  The Greek literally says “evil eye.”  Indeed, envy requires an evil eye.


Sacred holiness

all of creation brightly.

All things one in God.