In Mark’s Gospel passage, Jesus is being accused of being too relaxed about following all the laws of his Jewish religion. Jesus responds by reminding people that too often, religious people substitute human religious traditions for God’s laws. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition, he says. It seems we still do that today. On the Internet there is vitriolic criticism of people who receive communion in the hand even though all customs about communion reception are clearly man-made. There is caustic criticism of Pope Francis for suggesting that the church’s approach toward divorced people — man-made rules — should change. The Epistle for today is almost a commentary on the Gospel! Religion that is pure … is this: to care for orphans and widows … and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Custom and tradition are important. They hold a community together. But custom and tradition are not supposed to be chains that keep the community from growing and changing as it responds to new needs and insights.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia