To understand the Gospel in today’s liturgy, we need to be able to distinguish between traditions and Tradition (with a capital “T”).
Regarding the former, our Lord plainly says:
“This people honors me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me,teaching as doctrines human precepts.” You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.
Regarding the latter, there is a lot more to be said, a lot of distinctions to be made. One of my all time favorite Broadway musicals finely depicts those subtle distinctions between traditions and Tradition. See if you can pick out the difference between the two “modes of tradition” in the opening scene from Fideler on the Roof. (Come on. It’s Sunday, a day of rest. You are supposed to take time to enjoy these things — and reflect on them. Give it a shot.)
In this short clip from the musical, I find 3 typical trademarks of tradition:
- Formulaic traditions (ritualism)
- Tradition with a capital “T” (Sacred Tradition)
- And healthy folkloric custom (good ol’ family tradition)
I would like to delve deeper in to each aspect, but first, I would like to know your thoughts. When you hear the word tradition, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What did Jesus condemn when he rebuked the Pharisees over their traditions and what did he not mean to condemn? Is there a proper role for tradition in our lives and what do you think is the right role of Tradition in the Church?
I plan to explore these questions in the scope of two separate posts this week, brining in some of my reflections on the musical Fideler on the Roof with a few notes from Church teaching on the matter to balance it out with some objectivity. In the meantime, I look forward to any brief thoughts you would like to share on the topic.
Tomorrow, in keeping with our national traditions, I am going to take it easy and enjoy the three-day weekend. Hope you do too!