Today's verses are Mark 7:9-13: "And he said to them, 'You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!  For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'  But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, 'Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God)--then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.  And many such things you do.'" No one ever questioned the importance of the law as expressed in the Ten Commandments.  If anyone disregarded these commands, they were punished with death in ancient Israel.  One of the Ten Commandments Jesus chose through which to make his point was the command for children to honor their parents, to care for them as they aged, both personally and financially.  It was not an option to do so.

However, the elders of the law, over years, inserted tradition into an understanding of this commandment.  Jewish tradition allowed that funds originally set aside for caring for parents could be declared "Corban," which means "legally dedicated to God."  A child could then declare "Corban" with their money and then no longer be legally bound to care of his mother or father.  These funds could now be given to the temple, if the person desired, thus leaving the parents destitute.  One can see how the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in their own greed, might encourage children to declare "Corban" money set aside to care for parents to finance their own religious agendas.

Jesus knew that one of the major purposes of Moses' law was to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.  In this case, aging parents would be those people.  In choosing to declare "Corban" with money to be used to help aging parents, the children were "making void the word of God."  The Corban illustration was just one example Jesus chose of "many other such things you do," allowing them to reject the most important aspects of Moses' law (the Ten Commandments) for their own traditions.

We can do the same thing.  We can substitute the weightier aspects of God's commandments, like caring for the poor, the needy and destitute for simply going to church, or serving or a committee, or being an usher or greeter.  These things aren't necessarily bad, nor was the Corban itself.  Legally dedicating something to God is not bad.  It's only bad when the tradition overwhelms the truth, when human requirements replace the more important demands of the law: especially caring for our neighbors.

Examine your faith heart today.  How much of your faith is mere tradition?  How much reflects the deeper requirements of the law, especially caring for others?  How much of your faith is merely going through the motions?  How much is a deep heart experience involved in a personal relationship with the living God?

Understanding tradition verses the truth will be a life-long examination until we go home to our Father in heaven.  But it's a needed examination that should be done regularly.