It is the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir” (Out of the depths I call, Lord, to You).
Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23:
That Which Defiles
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
. . . .
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
. . . .
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
The text of today’s piece is available here. The cantata, one of Bach’s earliest, was based on Psalm 130. It contains these words, the humility of which stand in stark contrast to the haughty challenges of the Pharisees:
I am also a troubled sinner,
whose conscience gnaws him,
and would gladly, in Your blood
be washed clean of sin,
like David and Manassah.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]