Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 8:22-23.27-30; Mark 7:1-13)
Lay evangelist Matthew Kelly is advising people not to give up chocolate for Lent. Rather he wants listeners to follow his daily program of reflection and action. No doubt he will show them how to go beyond performing superficial actions. He will prompt them to give their whole lives to the Lord. His dismissal of fasting from chocolate approximates Jesus’ critique of Pharisaical practices in today’s gospel.
Jesus takes the Pharisees to task for minding the shell and not the kernel of the Law. He finds their concern about purifying their hands before eating as if they were preparing to offer Temple sacrifice pompous. He would say that if they really desired to please God they should help the needy.
It is not wrong nor is it very hard to give up chocolate. We might begin our Lenten penance in that way. But we need to go far beyond that. Giving the money saved on sweets to assist the poor is a small step in the right direction. Let us exert ourselves every day to become a blessing for others.