At our Masses this week-end, having closed the Gospel of John about the “Bread of Life”, we resume the story of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Mark.
It seems that as Jesus and His disciples travelled through the countryside en route to Jerusalem they came across a group of Jewish religious leaders. They were Pharisees who were the custodians of all Jewish religious practices –
Practices that had been added onto the Law of Moses over the years, like washing hands and feet before eating; washing utensils; and cooking in prescribed ways etc. All of these practices had nothing to do with the Law of Moses.
Nevertheless, they were designed to make Judaism an exclusive” faith. These ritualistic practices were considered to be exclusively “owned” by the Jews and the role of the Pharisees was to ensure that everyone adhered to these exclusive practices. Jesus challenged these hypocritical Pharisees.
The truth was that the custom of adding man made additions to sacred laws happened in other Near Eastern Communities. Such practices were also later adopted by the followers of Islam. Even the Christian church over the years has not been adverse to adding man made practices to the law of Christ.
The lesson in today’s Gospel passage is essentially about making sure we never allow ourselves to be diverted from God’s commandments and the law of Christ. And, of course, this Sunday we celebrate Fathers’ Day. We thank our fathers for teaching us to love God and always love and respect our fellow human beings.