07 Feb 2017: Korban

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Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: Gen 1: 20-2:4a; Ps. 8: 4-9; Gospel: Mk. 7: 1-13

In today’s gospel, we see an argument between Jesus and the Pharisees. While the Pharisees accuse Jesus and his disciples for not keeping the tradition, Jesus slams the Pharisees for giving undue importance to tradition. Traditions are important to any society or community. The reason for the recent protests by Tamil population against Jallikattu ban is based on tradition. Along with scripture and magisterium, Catholic Church also considers tradition to ascertain the authenticity of a teaching. Most of our rituals and practices have a great connection with tradition. We may find it to be in contrast with the action and words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. We have to keep in mind that Jesus is not speaking against tradition but rather the rigidity and slavishness to tradition. Traditions are to be for the welfare of human kind. Hence any tradition that becomes oppressive and outdated in the modern world should be reconsidered. It is not the tradition that is the korban (i.e., dedicated to the Lord) but the human person is the one dedicated to the Lord. Jesus was the one who broke the rigidity of tradition to reach out to human lives. What is the use of observing ritual cleansing of hands and legs as a part of tradition when mind is still filled with wickedness and evil inclinations? The situation that exists in India, our country, is a clear example for this. In the name of tradition there are several practices that oppress humans and suppress the dignity of people. One clear example is caste system. It is against these kinds of practices that degrade human life that Jesus raises his voice. Today we too, as disciples of this great revolutionary master who raised his voice against the oppressive traditional structures in the society, are called to shed our silence and speak out through actions and words. The guiding principle behind this is the awareness that human person is the korban (the one dedicated to the Lord) and not the traditions which are the products of human minds.

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