The tradition of the elders

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

We finally ended our more than a month’s dissertation of the Bread of Life discourse that the Evangelist John emphasized in his book, which is the theology of the Holy Eucharist. It is now the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time and today’s discussion is about the Tradition of the Elders which you can find in Mark 7:1-8, 14-15 and 21-23.


“7 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

“5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” 6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

“8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

“21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

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Jewish and Christian religions rely on tradition taught by teachers of the Holy Books. If you studied how the stories of the Bible came about, it all began with stories from tradition given down from parents to their children. When they are asked how they got those stories, they’d tell you that it came from tradition, but when you ask who started these traditions, the answer is: “we don’t know…but it is a tradition.”

In today’s first reading, it comes from Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8.

“Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

“6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?”

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Let me remind you that the early part of our Bible stories, especially the creation of the world came only through tradition because these stories came before writing was invented. There are many versions in reading this tradition depending on your religion.

This reminded me of the time when President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte called the early writers a “Stupid God.” So when he accused God of being stupid, he might have accused one of those unknown writers that kept the tradition alive with his Creation narratives. Now if you really want to know the real score of how the world was created then you must first die so you will learn about that story in your next life. But the fact remains, all religions use tradition before writing began and continues to teach what they got from their ancient traditions. To believe even if you did not see is blessed!

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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