Prov 15-16; Matt 15; Psalm 79
All too often the Pharisees reveal to us what we are. There desire to preserve the purity of Israel, a kingdom constantly under threat, means that they shut the door on so many with whom Jesus associates. We can I am sure think of many contemporary instances where desire to preserve that which we have excludes the other, from the personal to the national level.
Here it is there traditions. Of course we must be careful here. There are those who are against ‘traditions’ in the church, failing to recognise that ‘Love of neighbour’ is very much our tradition, as is observance of the Eucharist. There are traditions which are doors held open to Life, and then there are those that close the door to Life.
We have been thinking much about obedience to Christ these past weeks. We may I suggest see many readings of the gospel as ‘traditions designed to avoid concrete obedience to the will of God’. This is precisely what is going on here. The Pharisees have as it were added to the Law, but in so doing have negated it. To avoid the concrete call from God to honour father and mother – they create a ‘tradition’, a gospel if you like – which acts as a way out.