The Tradition of the Elders
Reflection on the Gospel of the Tuesday Of The Fifth Week In Ordinary Time
The Law, i.e. the Ten Commandments were given to Israel at Mount Sinai. This was meant to be the Constitution of the Kingdom of Israel, and God was to be their King. And Moses was at the top of the mountain, gone there to get the Constitution, written in God’s own fingers and also to get the design of God’s Throne amongst his people (The Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat). But he was there more than the Israelites could be comfortable about. They had become an insecure people, being ruled by the ruthless Egyptians, and they had learnt to survive in the furnace of Egyptian slavery. So they made a golden idol of a calf, one of the Egyptian Gods, and they proclaimed it to be the their saviour from Egyptian slavery and rule. This then was the cause of a fractured relationship between Yahweh and the Israelites. God handed the day to day administration and coordination to Moses. And it was Moses who gave the Second Law to guide the people in its day-to-day living. The book of Deuteronomy is all about this Second Law.
To this the Jews added many a rules, according to human understanding and wisdom. I like to refer to these as cultural truths. These truths are conventions, prevalent ideologies and thinking of the time, that they formulated as rules. The best example for this is Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees regarding Divorce. Moses had condoned divorce to save the lives of the women in marriages, of which their husbands wanted out, so they could marry other women. And this is what Jesus draws the attention of the Pharisees to, when he says, Moses allowed it for the hardness of their heart, and adds that primarily God has no scope for divorce in his divine wisdom.
This is precisely what Jesus is drawing the attention of this current lot of Pharisees. Look at your own intentions he is telling them, you will notice that your pursuit of God is opposite to the Great Shema*, which the Pharisees prided themselves to follow. Hence they had missed worshipping God correctly and completely, because they have missed understanding the heart of God, and chased self glorification and pride.
*The Great Shema: was an exhortation which was given to the Israelites and it read; (Deut. 6:4f)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord;
and you shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your might.
My pray at this moment is that we learn this Shema/Commandment, and understand it and pursue God as it says with our complete heart, soul and effort… Start wait on Jesus and understanding His Heart and living our lives accordingly…