Pentecost 14 B 2021 International Bacon Day Sermon
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our liturgical calendar tells us that today is the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. My how time flies. But did you also know that next Saturday (The First Saturday in September) will be “International Bacon Day?” And so, on this 14th Sunday after Pentecost, I wanted to let you know that I am looking forward to celebrating “International Bacon Day” and that I am planning to eat bacon on this important day.
As you can tell, I like “International Bacon Day” and that is why I think that every day should be “International Bacon Day.” After all, who does not enjoy a slice or two of bacon? As the dog snack commercial states “It’s Bacon.”
I find it ironic that as we anticipate celebrating “International Bacon Day,” our Gospel Reading today touches on sanitary practices and food that was not always permitted in the diet of God’s people and also Christ’s response to these restrictions.
Today’s Gospel lesson begins with a response to the question asked of Jesus as to why His disciples did not wash their hands before eating. To which Jesus responded by stating that human precepts are not doctrine. In other words, Jesus pointed out that our sanitary practices are not the means in which we receive God’s grace and mercy.
And as for the inquiry concerning eating food that was not permitted by the elders and tradition, verses 17-20 (not included in our reading today) state that Jesus declared all foods to be safe to eat because it is not what enters the body that defiles a person, but what comes out of that person that defiles them.
This was an important topic in Biblical times because many folks were concerned with what went into their body – and they were told that if they ate certain foods they would be made unclean.
And the dietary laws re-enforced this belief and provided a framework to help guide them in their meal preparation. And while it is true that these dietary laws were meant to help guide God’s people, they were also meant to help prepare humanity for the coming of the Messiah.
And they were meant to make humanity aware that everyone is in need of the One who will come and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Unfortunately, we humans like to twist things around and believe and spread false and incorrect information. So much so, that over time the lies and misinformation that we have spread have blemished the blessings that these laws were meant to bestow upon humanity.
And so instead of pointing to the Messiah, the flawed thinking was that if one just followed the rules everything would be OK. And if one acted correctly, one could make oneself right with God.
But Jesus knocked down this flimsy house of cards as He cut to the heart of it all. Jesus pointed out that it is the heart of humanity that is the center of filth and wickedness and not what enters us. Food or sanitary conditions do not make us hateful, or lustful or immoral. It is what is inside of our hearts that has been corrupted by sin that has made us unclean.
And so, the question is this: “Who can avoid the sinful condition inside his or her own heart?” And the answer is no one. We are a mess on the inside, and we cannot fix ourselves.
So where does our help come from? Our help comes from the Lord.
Each one of us is in need of the Messiah, the One to whom the sanitary and dietary laws pointed to because each one of us needs someone who has not been corrupted like we are.
We need Jesus.
Jesus is the One who comes to us from the outside – from heaven’s throne – to be with us so He can bestow upon us the righteousness and holiness of God through His life, His death, and His resurrection.
So, what is it that goes into us that makes us clean? Is it the bacon that we love to eat each morning, especially on “International Bacon Day?”
Is it the result of properly washed hands that have been held under the faucet for twenty seconds with foamy soap and warm water?
The gift given to us to make us clean is the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, given and shed for you and for me, for the forgiveness of all our sins.
For Jesus is the true Passover Lamb, who gave Himself to take away our sin, who by His death has destroyed death, and by His rising has brought us to eternal life.
And to that I say: “Thanks be to God.” Amen.
Let us pray: God of all times and places, in Jesus Christ, lifted high upon the cross, you opened for us the path to eternal life. Grant that we, being born again of water and the Spirit, may joyfully serve you in newness of life and faithfully walk in your holy ways. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.