Daily Reflection for Tuesday February 09, 2021
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners!
We encourage you to reflect on the day’s readings at this link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: Genesis 1:20-2:4a
Responsorial: Psalm 8:4-9
Alleluia: Psalm 119:36, 29b
Gospel: Mark 7:1-13
Our reflection on Tuesday’s readings:
In general, I love traditions, the collective experiences that have withstood the test of time and that celebrate relationships and responsibilities. These readings remind me of the importance of traditions in our lives, and the need to balance traditions with change, and laws with compassion. This year, I felt like the readings brought the words of Jesus into the center of our present lives.
Washing hands and how (or which) traditions we continue to observe now occupy our attention. Nerves are frayed over who does or does not observe rules, and how rules are enforced. We struggle with decisions on traditional gatherings and religious ceremonies. What should I do? Do I go, or not? Apart from washing hands, so many decisions are easily turned into sparks for annoyance, or hostility.
In the Gospel, the Pharisees and Scribes criticized Jesus' disciples for not following ritual washing before eating. Jesus said: “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!" (Mark 7:9). The leaders focused on the rules; Jesus focused on compassionate behavior toward others, for everyone.
Traditions help us define ourselves. They give structure to our days and the years. They bind together different generations. When traditions interfere with us serving God through loving each other, something needs to change.
While traditions can unify us, I recall times when a tradition that I loved was seen by another as an issue of right vs. wrong. “My” favorite observances at Mass might not exist in Masses in another Diocese, or even at a parish across town. Practices familiar in another community seemed strange or uncomfortable to me. Differences can stir fear, apprehension about change, and then disunity as polarization takes over. Fear and insecurity "win" us to one point or the other . . . and unity “loses.”
But just as Jesus did in a synagogue long ago, God calls us to shun divisions, to reject the slavery of fear, and to live in loving unity. Our objective to live in unity helps to bring about God's kingdom. It isn't required that we have uniformity in how we do that. We can learn from each other's goodness. We can recognize that we are all creations of God. We can grow comfortable with individuality without feeling threatened by difference. We can seek traditions that are rooted in loving respect, and which support us in meeting our objective to humbly seek God's Grace.
We all have unique strengths and weaknesses and by sharing in them, we can lift up each other, and increase what is good in one another. It is nothing less than a tradition of mutual love and respect. It can help us love the God that resides in each of us.
Peace, my sisters and brothers!