The good news for the day February 7, 2017

Tuesday of the fifth Week in Ordinary Time (330)

Religious leaders and educated people were probing him: “Why do your hangers-on not follow the traditional culture, but instead eat a meal with unwashed hands?” He responded, “Only too well did Isaiah describe you hypocrites, as it has been written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in empty ways do they worship me, teaching as doctrinal rules what are just human ones. You set God’s commandment aside, but adhere to merely human traditions.” He continued, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your cultural tradition! For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother,” and “Anybody who curses father or mother shall die.” Then you say, ‘If someone says to their father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban (‘In a trust for religion), you allow that person to stop caring for their father or mother. You make the word of God worthless in favor of the “tradition” that you keep handing on. And you do many such things.”  (Mark 7)

All of us miss the forest for the trees at times—doing things that culture says is right—but that—on reflection—we realize is wrong. That is what repentance is all about—that you keep examining why you keep doing things. Why do you behave? Why go to church? Why color your hair? Why keep buying this brand of product? Why spend time with these people? Why play Free Cell or watch trashy soap operas? The answers are worth sifting through. All of us need a little trash, a favorite vanity we encourage, a certain waste of time that is fun—God had fun—in our sense, a waste of time—making dinosaurs!

But repentance is to sift through choices—to distinguish what is merely mechanical tradition of your family—empty-minded obedience—from what is kindness, prayer, and peace. Do you approach disagreement defensively—a knee-jerk habit—or listen to God speaking something worthwhile? Do you appreciate your motives—are they just habits or authentically “YOU”? that is the point Jesus is making—to re-find—what is important to follow—and what is not.

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