Reflecting on Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
The other night I had a rare few hours of fairly intense pain. I was meditating and praying my way through it. It comforted me, somehow, to bow my head every time I prayed the word “Jesus.” I learned to do that as a child of the Catholic fifties, and probably haven’t done it since. But that night the tradition came back to me, just when I needed it most. It felt like Jesus was right there with me―he was, of course―and I felt a certain warmth through my body that stayed with me until the pain resolved.
Several weeks ago, when our priest-friends from Juarez were here, I noticed that they retained some of the pieties of my youth. They make the sign of the cross when an ambulance passes by, or when they pass a hospital. I haven’t seen that in many decades. It was really quite lovely.
I’m grateful to have these sacred gestures in my DNA. I love when we cross our foreheads, lips and hearts before the reading of the gospel. Yes, I want those words in my head, on my lips, and in my heart, and the gesture helps me pray for that.
In Jesus’ day there was a great burden upon the faithful Jews to observe meticulous ritual washings, and to purify themselves and all their dishes before eating. Jesus warns against public signs of piety that are meant to disguise the greed or bitterness within. It’s not the gestures themselves that trouble Jesus, but that they have taken the place of true fidelity to God.
I like being Catholic. The entire body is recruited in worship, which of course recruits the heart as well.
What “sacred gestures” in the Mass do you like the most?
Kathy McGovern ©2018