Begin with a few moments of quiet.
The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered.
Invite all present to sit comfortably.
When sitting comfortably, take three deep breaths, as you breathe in feel your lungs filling all the way up, when they are full slowly release your breath and feel your lungs emptying out fully. Repeat this three times.
Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?
Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so.
If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.
Introduce the Gospel
This is the Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
As disciples, we all need a kind of personal “rule of life” and we are supported by the community of faith and its practices. But the externals of religions—the very supports we need— risk becoming merely cultural, an empty shell, if our heart is not in it.
All three readings this Sunday underline the point: Pure, unspoilt religion is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.
From Kieran O’Mahony Hearers of the Word for this Sunday
Read the Gospel – Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
Read the Gospel aloud, even if you are on your own.
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’
Reflect on the Gospel using Imaginative Prayer
Sit quietly now for a few moments and allow the images created by hearing the Gospel to emerge. Use some quietening music again if you wish.
See here also some popular methods for engaging with scripture and leading into contemplation.
When you are ready, move onto reflecting on what took place in the Gospel, either sitting with the passage and your own reflection on it or using one or more of the following prompts for reflection arising from the Gospel.
- Certain sections of the Jewish people put great store on the importance of rules and conventions as a measure of the goodness of a person. Jesus challenges this view. How have you found that getting appearances right did not necessarily make you a good person?
- Even fidelity in religious practice is not enough. “This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”.
How have you experienced the importance of carrying your faith beyond attendance on Sundays? When have you seen that in others? What brought this home to you?
- What Jesus seeks are followers whose faith is whole-hearted and warm, people
whose religion is not primarily in dutiful observance but in their enthusiasm for life and their care for one another. It is good to be with them.
Think of the contrast between a dinner party at which everything is just right but very formal, and another party which is rather haphazard and casual but full of great warmth.
- “It is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.” It is also from within that good intentions come. We do have choices.
When have you been faced with the choice between good and evil? When did you realise the importance of accepting responsibility for your own life and choices? How has this helped your growth as a person?
Close the time of Prayer with the Our Father
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in written or on video.
The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.
The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.