Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Making the Common Holy

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Mark's Gospel tells us,
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.
I preached on this text nine years ago at Trinity in Statesboro by saying,
I think a sermon should relate the readings from the Bible to our lives today. A sermon should be relatively short, to the point, and give us a clear idea about how the reading should influence us all in the week ahead. Some weeks I have to really work with the scripture readings to understand what is going on and create a sermon that shows how the Bible passage is relevant to what’s going on in our lives.

This week, that task is easy enough. The reading from Mark’s Gospel is very straightforward. Jesus’ disciples are caught eating supper without washing their hands first. The Pharisees and Scribes, those rascals who always seem mad at Jesus, get mad about it. Then Jesus tells them that his disciples are right. The disciples don’t have to wash their hands before they eat if they don’t want to.

Jesus’ clarification of first century etiquette is concise and to the point. Jesus’ words are not exactly what Emily Post or Miss Manners would offer on the subject, but the Gospel is clear—you don’t have to wash your hands before you eat.

Then I went back to my seat. Sat down and paused a moment. Then I got up and began again saying,
OK. So it’s not that simple. You knew that I couldn’t be quite right about what’s going on in our Gospel reading. If our common sense tells us that we shouldn’t eat food with dirty hands, then what is Jesus really saying this week? What did happen that day the Scribes and Pharisees saw the disciples eat without washing up?

It helps to understand that nothing in the passage exactly says the disciples’ hands were dirty.
Follow this link to the rest of that nearly decade old take on this passage: Making the Common Holy.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor



  • At 8/29/2009 5:29 PM, Anonymous MKL said…

    Thank you for opening my eyes, mind and heart to the real meaning of this Gospel passage.


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