YEAR A: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: How Important Are Your Traditions?
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
HOMILY: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8)
In every society, there are unquestionable traditions; practices people do because “that is just how we do it here.” Some of these traditions last for so long that they even attain the status of law such that failure to abide by them is interpreted as an act of rebellion against the entire community.
In truth, traditions serve as identifying marks of a particular society or people. Take away their traditions and a people simply cease to exist. This is why the people are ready to kill, excommunicate or punish those who go against the traditions.
When traditions attain such heights, they become religion. People obey them merely out of fear. It can even be confusing when these traditions are religious in nature, in that, they form part of the religion of the people. As such they become the voice of God when in reality such traditions were of human origin.
To this day, a serious tension exists between Christianity as a religion and the traditions of the African people. The question remains: “What are those traditions that define us as a people and how can we be Christians without necessarily losing touch with our identity as Africans?” Our people observed many traditions in the name of God. Which of these traditions are truly from God and which are not?
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus and his disciples were given a cold look because they went against the tradition; they did something completely forbidden – they ate without first washing according to the rites of Jewish purification. For the Pharisees, washing according to the tradition is part of what makes one a true worshipper of God so they went to Jesus to question his behaviour.
To their surprise, Jesus gives it hard to them. He tells them how they have failed to distinguish between the traditions of men from the commandments of God. He even points out an example of one of such traditions that completely goes against the fourth commandment of God. Imagine that the people were keeping this tradition without even realising they were committing sin against God by so doing!!!
The lesson we learn from this passage of scripture is the need to question our traditions. Could it be that we have traditions which give us a sense of pride yet, are offensive to God? How important are the traditions we hold so dear?
Our first reading today from the book Genesis tells us how humans are the apex of God’s creative work, the last of all and best of all. It is only after creating man that God said; “it is VERY good.” only after creating man that God felt satisfied and decided to rest. To all other created things, God simply gave instructions but to the man he had made, God uttered blessings.
They say, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” This is why unlike other created things, we have a mind of our own and as such we have what it takes to really examine our actions. We have what it takes to live according to the mind of God and not simply according to mere human traditions. Examine your life today.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, you made me in your image and likeness, help me to live according to your will. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Genesis 1:20-2:4, Psalm 8, and Mark 7:1-13).