MK 7:1-23
By Rev. Fr. Johnpaul Eselu
We live in a time where the codes contained in the country’s constitution weighs more value then the people it is meant to govern. We have more laws than the people who own the law. Yet, our daily record of crimes surpasses the numerical strength of our nation. The quick and continuous degenerating order of our social structure, despite the vast chronicle of our Civic Jurisprudence calls for an urgent attention.
The striking content of the Gospel of St. Mark offers a salient directive to these horrors of our time. These directives include:
The Book of Deuteronomy gives a strong backing to these directives by it’s affirmation; “Take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life”. (Cf. Deut 4:1). Let us see how this directive mends a repulsive system.
They say that the ignorance of the law mitigates no Justice. Be you Christian, Muslim, Atheist, etc, there are three laws you are bound to acknowledge.
First is the Natural Law. This law has the innate compulsive tendency. They are the laws of: Procreation, Growth, Gravity, Evaporation, etc.
Second is the Human Law. This law enjoys the conditioned configurations of man. For instance: Customs, Traditions, Norms, Constitutions, etc.
Third is the Divine Law which has a supernatural enforcement imbued in the Human Conscience. For instance: The Ten Commandments, etc.
This Divine Law which speaks to the human conscience is the Supreme law without which no law can be effectual. It becomes amazing how the human society creates rules and regulations with no recourse to this supreme law that sanctions all laws. This aberrant deviation became a point of worry as Jesus rebuked the Pharisees:
• The doctrines you teach are only human regulations.
• You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human regulations.
• The true knowledge of law must creat a balance within the three universal laws.
• The Human Law is only but a modification of the Divine and the Natural Laws.
• The Commandments of God are never suggestions, rather, Laws.
• A Civil Law that is void of the Divine Law loses it’s conscience.
• What becomes of our society, when we surrender to Human Traditions but put aside the laws that guide our consciences?
A kin observer once said, “if you wish to be legitimately wicked, simply observe the human laws with a sincere devotion”. The love of God is the root of all laws. The love of neighbor is the fruit. The human law makes no meaning once it loses it’s conscience. The Divine Law is the conscience of all laws. In today’s pericope, Jesus observed how the Pharisees applied the human laws with less resort to their consciences. Then he averd:
• These people honour me only with lip service.
• It is from within, from man’s heart, that evil intentions emerge.
• Any societal law that is void of love is null.
• The Divine Law is the heart’s opium. It regulates the soul, which regulates the human behavior.
• True observance of law enhances love. A true law reaches out to the society.
• “A pure, unspoilt religion in the sight of God is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows.” (Cf. James 1:27)
• A law observed without love brings further chaos to the society.
• The moment law degenerates to an activity of performance, it becomes pasquinade.
The knowledge of the true law and it’s true observance yields a boundless benefit to the human society. A theologian once said, “if one tenth of Christians should master the true law and observe it, evil would be outshined in the society”. Religion’s devotees are extremely pious that they forget to love. It is love that heals the society not piety! This avid piety so permeated the life of the Pharisees that Jesus exclaimed:
• The worship they offer me is worthless.
• Isaiah spoke right of their hypocrisy.
• A law that does not heal the society is an aberration.
• A law that foils a just relationship between one another is a deviant legalism.
• Laws are meant to be beneficial to man and the society, not to hurt or hunt man and the society.
• What’s the need of the law, if it’s observance deprives the society of the good it is meant to serve?
• What’s the need for a wedding tradition that bruises perpetual disunity amongst couples and in-laws?
• What’s the need for a Civil Law that enforces taxation on widows and orphans who embark on menial trade for mere survival?
• What’s the need when religious taxation (during burials, thanksgivings and tithe Sundays) devoids human compassion?
• Laws are means to an end, they are not absolute. WHEN LAWS DEFEAT THEIR BENEFITS, THEY BECOME ZIP.

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