The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Renato Tampol, (Divine Word College, San Jose, Occ. Mindoro)
Wednesday 5th Week in Ordinary Time
Wherever I go, I always encounter people asking clarifications about my faith. I regard them as faith seekers searching for truth; some are friendly; others are annoying as they attack the core of my faith and my being. But, I consider such encounters as an opportunity to start a dialogue with them.
In our gospel today, Jesus illustrates plainly the prevalent issue at that time. He seeks to bring to the fore the issue confronting his disciples and listeners, “What makes a person unclean?”
Culturally, Jews were meticulous in following traditions, especially of being clean, the ritual purity. I think we are the same when we post signs like: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” But the Jews’ belief was so deep that they would condemn others who did not conform to their ritual practices.
And Jesus clarifies the issue by clearly stating that it is not “what enters into one’s mouth that makes him unclean, but what comes out from him.” His simple answer clarifies everything if one has an open mind and heart.
For Christians, this message urges us not to be biased towards others. It invites us to a deeper reflection of our human nature and our weaknesses. When others do not conform to what we believe in, we should exercise tolerance for them. People have different beliefs, cultures, and traditions – the source of their practices.
It would be wiser for us to exercise restraint, especially those whose acquaintance is new to us and try to initiate dialogue so we might understand them better. Dialogue presupposes respect for the other person, whatever his faith, culture, and traditions may be. In this way, we live up to our true calling as Christians who are supposed to be persons of peace.