The Pharisees Question Jesus

What does qorban have to do with Jesus, anyway?

If you are like me, you may have never heard the word qorban in your life – unless you happen to be engaged in exegesis as a living or a Bible geek.  So let’s read on into the depths of Chapter 7 of the Gospel According to Mark to learn more.

The Pharisees Question Jesus
The Pharisees Question Jesus (Brooklyn Museum)

Jesus is once again surrounded by those who, like Herod, are drawn to him and yet fear him.  It is the ever-present Pharisees who in today’s reading question the fact that the disciples of Jesus are not “keeping the tradition of the elders.”

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

Jesus answers their question by pointing out their hypocrisy, particularly the act of qorban:

For Moses said,
“Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.”
Yet you say,
‘If someone says to father or mother,
“Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things.”

Qorban means a formula for a gift to God.  In this example, Jesus criticized the Pharisees because their formulaic (or earmarked) gifts to God were not genuine.  Put simply, they would rather give to the Temple to make themselves look and feel good, rather than giving it even to their needy parents.

When I explained how to be a hypocrite like me, I quoted Mother Teresa and her gift to us in any one of us can be seen as “Christ in a distressing disguise.”  She, like many blessed and venerated Christians before us, honored our Lord by her actions.  She consistently prayed 3-4 hours a day, in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

In this daily practice, she received tremendous spiritual strength.  I have observed that when my spirit feels healthy, I am likely to detach my heart from my words.  This is a recipe for disaster because it’s just a short step into a qorban.

Duccio di Buoninsegna - Christ Accused by the ...
Christ Accused by the Pharisees - Image via Wikipedia

Prayer takes practice and through practice (particularly the Most Holy Rosary) and grace, I learned to pay attention to my wandering mind and get it back to the task at hand.  I also no longer think of God as ‘up there’ but sitting next to me. This helps me be honest and conversational in my prayers.

Jesus challenged and corrected the Pharisees throughout the Bible.  It is sometimes easy for Christians who are ‘in the groove’ of their faith to look downward at apparently less devout brothers and sisters.  I hope to remember that although the Pharisees were real men, they are also a metaphor:  all of us (fallible) humans are Pharisees some of the time.

I am overwhelmed by the response to the HHS post I reblogged out the other day (Thanks to Teresa and Richard for reblogging it too!) and thanks be to God to Frank who started it.  Our work together has paid off and as of tonight, we surpassed the 25,000 signatures and sit at 26,271!

Let’s continue to pray for a sensible resolution to this travesty of religious freedom and be thankful that we are able to petition our government – not everyone has this right in other countries.

Blessings to you and yours!

You might also like these related posts from cinhosa:

Touch Jesus and be healed through faith
Was Jesus out of his mind?
What is the intent of your worship?
When you are summoned by Jesus

Today we remember Saint Colette


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5 thoughts on “What does qorban have to do with Jesus, anyway?”

  1. Cinhosa, I am a proud member of the Bible geek club and you schooled me today! I am always tempted to slip into formulas as I lead others in faith. The thing is I can’t stand when I do that. Thomas A Kempis said that the Holy Spirit is like a wild goose. Boy was that brother right on. I am sure that the Wild Goose has no use of my formulas. :) Enjoyed again thank you!

  2. I had never heard of the qorban before your post, Cinhosa. Thanks for teaching me something new. In elementary school and high school I can remember simply reciting prayers just because that is what I was taught that I was supposed to do. I wasn’t really taught how to speak to God through prayer in a more personal way until I attended Franciscan University. God Bless.

  3. Well Teresa and Cinhosa, I see “birds of a feather flocks together.” What a wonderful nest to be part of??? The one line that got me in this Cinhosa was…………. drum roll “When my spirit is healthy I am likely to detach myself from my words.” That was the one liner for me on this post. That one is the keeper for me. (I think I am going to go and get a book with the title “Cinhosa’s One Liners For My Spiritual Life.” That way I will not forget them:>) Or………I can create a page on my blog. Yes that is what I will do.

    Always, good job and God Bless, SR

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