Rites and Rituals

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Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1:1 SM 15:16-23; Gospel: MK 2:18-22

We live at a stage of Christianity where rites and rituals play a very important role in Christian living. It is true that the proper following of the rites and rituals would enhance our liturgical celebration. But the danger is the patronizing of rites and rituals. When rites and rituals become a point of disagreement, then we can be sure that we have moved away from our priorities. This dialectics between the core of spirituality and the shell that covers it could be seen in both the readings of today. Instead of carrying out the commandments of the Lord, Saul preferred to bring some animals, perfect and without blemish to offer sacrifices to the Lord. But Samuel blames him by saying that the core of spirituality is obedience to the will of God and not offering sacrifices. This polemic continues in the Gospel. Though Jesus was present with them, the Pharisees insisted on fasting and penance as they formed the ritualistic aspects of their religious life. Like Pharisees our lives too can become a mere following of rituals and traditions without getting into the core of Christian spirituality. Like Saul we can offer sacrifice everyday to the Lord, yet lead a life totally against the commandments of the Lord. Jesus clearly says” “It is not the one who calls me Lord! who will enter the kingdom of heaven but one who does the will of his Father in heaven.” In prophet Isaiah, we find Yahweh condemning the people of Israel. “I do not take pleasure in your sacrifices, I abhor your fasting and festivals… learn to do good, avoid evil, seek justice.” Rites and rituals are necessary but are not the core of Christian spirituality which is Christ and obedience to his words.

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