Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
The Tradition of the Elders
15 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. 6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:
8 ‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’”
There are so many things that were done in the olden days that we would never think to do or not do. Just watch any old movie and you can verify that to be true. Lines of old musicals no longer use the word “gay” to mean “happy.” It looks odd when everyone in a scene is smoking… INSIDE! And don’t expect movies and television shows today to use gender stereotypes, racial slurs, or even violence to get the laugh (for instance, the Three Stooges…even their name). Whatever you think about these things, they just won’t fly these days unless a movie is specifically making fun of the olden days.
Especially during this pandemic, we are encouraged to wash our hands, wear a mask, and to social distance. Despite popular belief, these are not political practices. They are simply common-sense health practices. This is one of those scriptures where I think the Pharisees get a bad rap. They just asked Jesus why he and his disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate. Simple question and one we might ask a child before they came to the table or after they went to the bathroom. But it’s that second question and example where they went wrong. They went a step beyond and as they were want to do, they brought up the law. And by doing so, they made this a political issue instead of a common-sense health practice.
And this is what Jesus has a problem with even going so far as to quote Isaiah: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” In other words, perhaps we need to examine whether what we are teaching and fighting for is a human precept or a way to praise and honor God. After all, I can’t think of a better way to love others than to protect them from a life-threatening virus.
God of all knowledge and understanding, give us the wisdom to know when what we are fighting for is of you or of the world, for ourselves or to serve God and others. Amen.
Go with God!