Pondering Mk 7:1-9

“You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

The word of God is continually being “nullified” in our daily life. We call Jesus our teacher; yet we cling to the words of “elders” in preference to the message of Scriptures.  It seems right and just to follow the lessons taught by people we respect in parental roles, or those considered “learned”. It is tradition handed down through the ages.  It’s misuse was shown by the Pharisees.  

In early times, when questioning was rude and slavish obedience was associated with the Commandments, it was natural to think that the parents knew best. It seemed natural then to accept the words of authority. In an age where we feel all grown-up and rebellious toward all things traditional, there remains a tendency to take “celebrities’  words at face value. Despite the obvious burden of  negativity, there remained the overriding compulsion to adopt new and “unorthodox” pronouncements slavishly – ingrained lies the habit of accepting the words of “experts”. A new tradition spawns to enslave the vulnerab

Jesus took on the form of a slave to invite humans into the “Kingdom of God”. He offered to heal humanity of its many diseases, and to liberate it from all forms of slavery and the shackles of soulless traditions. In our pride and stiffness of heart, we turn divine covenants into man-made  burdens, hard to bear: devoid of inner grace. Divinely inspired “Commandments” splintered into hundreds of “laws” that only few understood. Knowledge became a powerful tool, and the servants became masters – each good custom corrupted the world. In Jesus’ presence the disciples did not fear the consequences of breaking the human traditions regarding purifications, fasting and like observances. In his life and teachings  Jesus testified that the Lord does not take pleasure in hollow sacrifices and trivial tinkering with outward acts of celebrations. The Word of God is love; it is the commandment above all other commandments. Acts of piety and purification must be centred around the love for God and neighbour. Failing in that, worship is an empty act that nullifies the Word and stunts spiritual growth.

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:14-29

Pope Francis ( may God bless you papa), stirs up the imagination. Some see in him John the Baptist; some St Francis of Assisi; some as one of the prophets. We can see him as an apostle for the Twenty-first century. His apostolic ascent marks a distinctive change, from the old to a new; a draining of old wine turned sour, and its replacement by new wine in a new flask.  With introspection, in many areas there is a new awareness of what discipleship means. The ocean is filled with souls, in a rich diversity, craving salvation through Christ. Groups under empirical modernism, secularism, LGBT rights, harsh fundamentalism, cyclic poverty, marginalised minorities, find themselves isolated and captives of their consciences. His leadership of the “Mission”, has been remarkable – the poor and the widows have found a voice and a home; shackles made of fake consciences are falling before the light of recovered Mercy.
His teaching is more attuned to modern demands for satisfaction based on logical thinking. While he encourages traditional forms of devotion, he also urges us to think like adults. People find it challenging when he asks us to question the way we pray the Lord’s Prayer. He is really asking the faithful is to understand and pray in a meaningful way when they recite even formulated prayers. When Jesus says we are to adopt a child-like attitude to faith he was not demanding childish blind faith. As we grow older, he calls us to think like grownups and to act as grownups. In his parables he wants us to be filled with wonder at God’s creative force, just like children. And, to understand, with a mature attitude, the great mystery of the kingdom of God.
Each effort at reform is challenged by negativity. People quote scriptures and tradition to protect their tenuously held positions of power and patronage. Like Herod, Antipas, they are willing offer a sacrifice on a silver platter to please the power of Mammon.