21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C - 21/8/2016 - Gospel: Lk 13:22-30
Customs and Traditions
Customs and traditions are unwritten laws or verbal rules that people of the same cultures are used widely.  Wherever people move they carried with them their customs and cultures to a new place of resettlement and that is how customs and traditions spread over national boundaries. Some customs and traditions were acceptable in home soil but received strong objection when applied to a new land. Some of them were sensible in a village setting but became a nuisance and chaos in a city life style.  When we migrate to a multicultural society we need to be mindful of our own cultures and other people's cultures. This would help to avoid conflicts and cultures clashes and to live in harmony with the main stream society. We are not assimilated but are called to live in multicultural society. There is no clear cut the differences between what is a custom and what is a tradition and most of the time the two words are used interchangeably. Customs and traditions are the products of human society and in themselves contain wisdom, gathered through real life experience of previous generations, handed down to the next generation.  Through customs and traditions we learn something about the ways in which our ancestors had gone through and how customs and traditions had been created. Customs and traditions are suppose to make life easier but when rigidness is applying to real life situations it becomes a hindrance. We need to be attentive and considerate to avoid burden for others.

The Gospel recorded several occasions religious leaders of the community placed themselves above customs and traditions and used them as means for their financial achievement. The misuse of customs and traditions became burdensome for the underprivileged.  Jesus who was on the side of the poor and marginalized criticized the religious leaders.

Since they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heaven burdens and lay them on men's shoulders... everything they do is done to attract attention. Matt 23:4-5

Jesus criticises the ways in which religious leaders used customs and traditions as for personal gain. They attacked Jesus' disciples for neglecting to keep the traditions, because they did not ceremonially wash their hands before meal. Jesus challenged them, asking why they "break away from the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition" Matt 15:3.

Jesus loved customs and traditions that are praising and giving glory to God. Jesus loved customs and traditions that give life and support life. He came not to abolish the law but to complete them Mat 5,17. He taught his disciples the law of love and providing loving service for others. He taught them to serve with gentleness and humble of heart. Any custom and tradition that promotes love and protects lives are good to keep because they are aligning with the teaching of Jesus. Customs and traditions are not deep rooted in God's love may be better abolished than to preserve them.