In condemning the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes, Jesus uses an interesting example. It is hypocrisy to deny help to one's parents under the pretext of dedicating that help to God: "you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother." One could conveniently argue that Jesus himself said that whoever loves father and mother and other close kin in preference to him is not worthy of him, and to use this quotation as excuse for the neglect of close relatives.

There are occasions when the situation demands the abandonment of a lesser good in preference to a higher good. Jesus himself caused anguish to his earthly parents when he stayed back in the temple in Jerusalem for three days, because he had to be in his father's house. Yet after that incident he went back with them to Nazareth and grew up in wisdom and the fear of God under their guidance. He died before the eyes of his dear mother, something that must have cost him dearly, because he had to fulfill the heavenly Father's will. Yet even in that situation he made provision for his mother by entrusting her to his beloved disciple.

What he condemns as hypocrisy is giving our actions an honorable motive when in fact they are motivated by our selfishness, as when a person who is tired of a lover all of a sudden remembers that he or she has been unfaithful to Christian morality or to the lawful spouse. God does not only look at our actions but also at the motivation behind them. Actions ought to be motivated by love, by a sincere desire to benefit others.
Reflection on the Readings
5th WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II Tuesday, 9th February 2010         
  First Reading:     1 Kgs 8:22-23, 27-30
  Gospel:               Mk 7:1-13