The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?” … Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you – take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit – that’s the real pollution”. (Mark 7: 5, 14 – 15)
What a big difference it made to Tina and Rick when the last of their kids went off to school and just
the two of them were in the house. They discovered that they had no one to blame things on! One day Rick was looking for a screwdriver and couldn’t find it. He was sure that Todd, their youngest, had used it and failed to put it back where it belonged. For days he griped to Tina about the kids not taking responsibility and failing to respect the property of others.
Tina, as well, discovered the jar of her favourite moisturiser empty and was absolutely positive that Christine, their daughter, had used the last of it and failed to replace the jar. She echoed Rick’s complaints about Todd with her own about Christine; about how her daughter expected Mum to do everything and didn’t take enough initiative, blah blah blah. Then Tina discovered the forgotten new jar of moisturiser that Christine had bought her in the same bathroom drawer where Rick found his screwdriver that he left there himself after fixing a leaky faucet. Both had fallen victim to pinning their errors on others.
Jesus reminds us that when things go wrong, we can most often find responsibility lying at our own doorsteps. Or, as cartoon character Pogo said on a poster for the first Earth Day, with a nod to our responsibility for global warming, “We have met the enemy and he/she is us”. It is the mea culpa of the true confession, the recognition that we are accountable for our actions.