WITH UNCLEAN HANDS
with Rev. Rachel
2 WITH UNCLEAN HANDS Mark 7
The cacophony of truisms about hands is one that I could live without. To gain the upper hand, to take the law into your own hands, to force someone’s hand, to bite the hand that feeds you…yeah, yeah, yeah.
That the devil makes work for idle hands and that there are times when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing…also ubiquitous and no more invigorating. [We’d only have one hand if God didn’t value the possibility of one hand doing one thing while the other hand does another, right?]
No I don’t want to “hand in” another paper to a professor. Ever. Again. And I’m certainly not making money “hand over fist”. It is perhaps only when we arrive at this notion of having blood on one’s hands that I jerk to attention. That could have something to do with my aversion to blood. [I faint before the doctor can even say “blood-work.”] It may also relate to the life and death implications of this image.
I think Jesus would have me do a little more digging; you know, go after what’s underneath my initial reaction and see what more there is to see.
Experiencing again this exchange with the Emily Posts of his day, I am reminded of what saddened him about popular manners: No one wanted to think about the essence of why, for example, they washed their hands before eating. They simply wanted everyone to just do it. They asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders (v.5)?”
His response was a lived one. Because in the kingdom, God’s intention trumps convention and God intends life.
With that, my conventional view of having blood on one’s hands shifts a smidge. I see Shiprah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives sparing the lives of countless infants (Exodus 1). Surely, there was blood on their hands. I see all people who have given everything to stop the life from leaving a bleeding loved one. I see Joseph of Arimathea offering to take Jesus’ body down from the cross (Mk 15).
Maybe what I’m saying is that Jesus is still checking the Scribes and Pharisees. He’s checking them in as much as they live in me and I’m glad. It’s not so bad. It feels like love, actually.