What gives life?
Law and tradition are good things. As demonstrated in the first reading from Deuteronomy, the Law, as given by Moses, was to help the people of Israel maintain their relationship with God. They had finally completed their 40-year journey through the desert and were about to take possession of the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. Without Moses and the law to guide them in their relationship with God, it would have been very easy for Israel to accommodate to the customs of the people around them and move away from God.
Human nature, being what it is, can elevate law and tradition to something almost god-like and see them as ends rather than means to an end. This is what Jesus points to in the Gospel when the scribes and Pharisees complain that the disciples eat without washing their hands. It may have been unsanitary, but did not detract from their relationship with God. The disciples maintained the intention of the law and tradition while remaining open to the prompting of the Spirit as they continued to grow in their relationship with God through the teaching and example of Jesus.
As we listen to Jesus today, we are challenged to reflect on our understanding of vocation and discipleship. Vocation is our call to respond to Jesus invitation to live as his disciples, grow in our relationship with God and with one another, guided by the Spirit. The Spirit is constantly doing something new, if we can perceive it, if we can trust it, if we can move with it. If we can let go of what holds us back and move with the Spirit, our vocation, our lives, might look much different that what we have perceived until now.
In our present world, the cry for justice, compassion, healing, mercy, protection of creation and right relationships between peoples and nations is deafening. What am I willing to change and let go of in order to respond to the Spirit’s call?
By Richard Beaudette, OMI