Readings for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; Mark 7:14-23

     The three readings for Sunday call us to obey God’s commandments. A chastened Moses stands at the edge of the Promised Land urging Israel to obey the LORD as the necessary response to His gracious gift of land (Deut 4). The imprisoned apostle Paul urges his readers to put on God’s armor and keep praying (Eph 6). And Jesus himself calls us to address the impurity within our hearts and minds instead of obsessing over outward looks (Mk 7).

     In each instance, though, this call to obedience is not to get us stuck focusing on our own behavior. The point is to draw us out of ourselves and closer to our great and merciful God. So when the nations see Israel’s obedience they’ll say, “Wow, I want to know a God like theirs, who is so near and so righteous!” And Paul specifically states that it is God’s armor we  put on, not our own. Our strength is not in ourselves, but in Him. And the cleansing Jesus calls for in our Gospel is not a self-cleansing process. We need God to “create a clean heart” and “renew a right spirit” within us. This is how God shows His glory in our lives.

       Left on our own, none of us is faithful enough, strong enough or pure in heart. But you can thank God today that, because of Jesus Christ, you are all these things.