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.