That Which Defiles The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
This has really struck me today with respect to the whole debate on women bishops and gay marriages; what would Jesus say if he walked around general synod today?
I believe completely that the unacceptance of gay marriages and women bishops is all about human tradition. God loves us as we are; he knows us inside and out; this isn't true only for those who live the traditionally accepted way, it's true for all people, everyone! How could this God I know not require us to love and accept everyone; it is embedded in the "love thy neighbour" commandment.
Father, today I pray again for your unwavering love of all to be felt and known by those who make decisions in the church; bring us all your word and truth. Amen.