Traditions are important in human culture. We cling to them. Breaking with tradition is difficult, very difficult. The very popular Broadway show, A Fiddler on the Roof, demonstrated just how difficult it can be to do something that is contrary to our traditions.
The Scriptures for today can be read in the light of breaking with tradition. Amos speaks of a clean break with tradition. Because of social abuses, the people of the northern kingdom will be swept off the land of promise and even the biblical tradition of the word of God will be broken. He proclaims a famine, a famine for hearing the word of the Lord. God’s Word had made a covenant with the people of Israel. That covenant had been broken time and time again. Now God’s Word would be absent from the people.
The Gospel speaks of another clean break. A non-observant Jew, declared a sinner by the Pharisees and scribes, was chosen to be an apostle of Jesus. This clear break with tradition is momentous in itself, but it is also a signal of the fact that God intends to open the covenant and include those who have usually been excluded. Mercy and compassion are to replace sacrificial holocausts. God takes on the role of physician who will heal the broken relationship between God and the people.
Every Friday, but especially on the first Friday of the month, we remember God’s love as it was demonstrated in the death of Jesus on the cross. By the shedding of his most precious blood we are saved. Blood, even the blood of animals, was considered sacred by the Jewish people, so sacred that blood was reserved for God and God alone. However, Jesus consecrates wine and gives it to his apostles to drink and then tells them to remember him whenever we celebrate the Eucharist. A new tradition was born that night before Jesus died; we honor that tradition by keeping the new covenant which Jesus has given us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator