Monday, August 31, 2015

Not clinging to human traditions

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
August 30, 2015

Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

We don't know when or where the confrontation took place. The evangelist is only interested in evoking the atmosphere in which Jesus moves, surrounded by teachers of the Law, scrupulous observers of tradition who blindly resist the novelty that the Prophet of Love wants to introduce into their lives.

The Pharisees, outraged, observe that his disciples are eating with unclean hands. They can't tolerate it. "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders?" Although they're talking about the disciples, the attack is directed at Jesus. They're right. It's Jesus who is breaking that blind obedience to traditions to create around him a "space of freedom" where what matters is love.

That group of religious teachers hasn't understood anything about the kingdom of God that Jesus is proclaiming to them. God doesn't reign in their hearts. The Law, rules, uses and customs marked by tradition still rule. For them, the important thing is to observe what has been established by the "elders." They don't think about the good of the people. They don't care about "seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

The error is serious. Therefore, Jesus responds with harsh words: "You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

The doctors speak reverently of "the tradition of the elders" and attributed divine authority to it. But Jesus calls it "human tradition." God's will must never be confused with what is the fruit of men.

It would also be a serious mistake today if the Church were to remain a prisoner of the human traditions of our ancestors, when everything is calling us to a profound conversion to Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord. What must concern us is not preserving the past intact, but making possible the birth of a Church and some Christian communities able to copy the Gospel faithfully and make the plan of the Kingdom of God real in contemporary society.

Our first responsibility is not to repeat the past, but to enable the acceptance of Jesus Christ nowadays, without concealing or obscuring him with human traditions, however venerable they may appear.

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