In today’s Gospel, Jesus indicates that many of the Old Testament laws were of human invention. They had little to do with loving God, but rather of conforming to social demands. On the one hand, people helped those in authority to keep control. On the other hand, people knew where they stood. If they externally observed the Law, they were good. The purpose of today’s Gospel is to put things in proper perspective. Jesus is not criticising such customs as washing hands before eating. What He is criticising is the disproportionate importance given to things to the neglect of what is far more important.
The Gospel is not a code of laws. It provides a vision of a truly human life, lived for God, among other people. It is focussed on relationships rather than individual actions. This very day, we will have many opportunities to love and serve Jesus in various situations. Instead of being anxious about what we may do wrong, we should ask rather, “Where and how can I be a more loving, caring and compassionate person this day?”

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