The Most Important Word

Our Filipino culture is greatly influenced by different cultures of various races, such as Malaysian, Chinese, Spanish, American, Japanese, and several others. It is no surprise that many of our traditions are being combined with their faith by some Filipino Catholics. My family is not excused from this. Last year, I volunteered to set up our Christmas Eve dining table. After placing all of the dishes we prepared on the table, my sister requested me to put the bowl of rice grains and eggs, along with bills and coins. It was because she noticed that this is trending on social media and is considered by many to be a lucky charm. I told her that Feng Shui and other superstitious beliefs are contradictory to our faith, so I rejected her request.

In the Gospel, many Jews were offended, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, when Jesus disputed their elders’ traditions, particularly the washing of hands before eating, which is not a commandment of God. They stood in silence when Jesus asked, “How well have you set aside God’s commandment to uphold your tradition?” This was because they followed human tradition rather than God’s teachings.

Given the countless traditions passed down to us, this question still applies to us now. The Gospel challenges us to abandon our false beliefs if we truly embrace Christ’s teachings. This includes discarding “indispensable family traditions” that our forefathers established. We are challenged to do this even if it disagrees with the people closest to our hearts. Finally, it is a reminder that above all of these traditions, the most important word we need to hear and follow is God’s Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His teachings.

By: Sem. Edward R. Miana

Today’s Gospel

Mk 7:1-13

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
(For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.)
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
In vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He went on to say,
“How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say,
‘If someone says to father or mother,
“Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things.”

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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

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