From time to time, newspapers and magazines will offer, as an item of “filler”, various laws that are still on the books but seem silly to us in our day and age.
In one California city, it is illegal to have two indoor bathtubs in one house. Clean water, a precious commodity when the law was written, is now readily available, so the law seems silly. But the human value of protecting and preserving precious resources is still around, evident in many conservation laws that seem sensible to us.
So it is with the laws of religious tradition. What Jesus scorns today is others’ attitudes toward ritual laws, an attitude that becomes nearly idolatrous when laws are observed for their own sake. Jesus teaches that observation of external ritual laws is of value only when they are emblems of our internal disposition toward the will of God: to love God completely and to lave neighbor entirely.
Roman Catholicism is a tradition rich with customs, traditions and even laws. As we continue to listen to the voice of Christ, we must always look into our own hearts and underneath our ritual practices to make sure that love of God and love of neighbor are what we prize above all.
God bless you all!
—Fr. David Kozak