We are now more germ conscious than ever. Almost everywhere we go there are soap dispensers available. None of us would ever dream of eating without washing our hands. Too many germs around to lower our guard.
However, the Pharisees were not the least bit concerned about germs. Laws of purification had been passed on for generations: how to wash, how much to wash, and when to wash—a ritual that had taken on religious significance. They were the purification laws, which extended further than the washing. For example, men could not touch women. Sexual relations were only allowed under specific circumstances. A person could not enter the Temple if he had not been cleansed. Therefore when the Pharisees observed that Jesus and His disciples were not following the purification laws they were critical. Our Lord pointed out that they were confusing tradition with a capital “T” with traditions with a small “t”. In other words the tail was wagging the dog. People were serving the law rather than the law serving people—naturally serving God. Same fallacies are committed today within our religious practices. Not that such stuff makes us bad people. Just that we should discern between what is important and what is merely tradition with a small “t”. For instance, some folks get all bent out of shape with they break a promise they made to God. First advice, make it again—try again. Doesn’t work—change the promise. Still can’t—don’t make any more promises. “Forgot to say my morning prayers; ate meat on Friday during Lent; didn’t use Holy Water when I came into the Church. Believe it or not, but those are all tradition with a small “t”.
Many of the things that we do as Catholics are important but they do not all have the same level of importance. Praying the Rosary is not as important as Holy Mass. Fact is that noting, no prayer, no devotion is as important as Holy Mass. That’s why missing Mass on the weekend is considered a serious sin. No other devotion has the consequence of sin attached to it. Unfortunately many have lost sight of what is truly important. We can get distracted with someone claiming to have witnessed a miracle; The claim that the Blessed Mother is making an appearance; or a statue is bleeding. Indeed the distractions can overwhelm us when we are not focused.
Jesus challenged the Pharisees and challenges us to focus. Not every religious practice is worthy of concern. Even from the 1960’s to the present, great amount of change has occurred. Yet, through the change, some matters of doctrine stand unchanged. God is triune—Three persons in One. Jesus Christ is both God and man. His Body and Blood become truly present in the Blessed Sacrament at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. From several doctrinal teachings, these are the ones that deserve our attention. Following the Commandment, staying out of trouble, not gossiping are issues that will always be brought to confession when we fail. Holy Mass is the reason that we are Catholic, there can be no other. Our ancestry goes back to the original group at the Last Supper—the First Eucharist. By rite of ordination, handed on through the Apostles we have direct succession to St. Peter, better said, to Jesus Christ, the High Priest.
His greatest gift to humanity—the gift of Himself—His continued presence is the Eucharist. May we never take the Eucharist for granted.