Matthew 15 – Fiddler on the Roof

Day 15 of #DailyMatthew.

Okay, I’m going to sound old here, but … do you remember the movie Fiddler on the Roof?  A classic, in some people’s minds.  In our family’s mind, it must have been both a classic and a tradition, because it seemed that we watched it every year.  For many years.  🙂

I have a variety of memories from watching the movie so many times (and I can do a pretty good impression of Tevye!), but one that often comes back to me is the song “Tradition“.  Why?  Maybe it is because of my Russian and German heritage.  But probably not.

What is the value of tradition?  Tradition speaks to values, foundation, relationships, roots, identity, stability, and at it’s best, tradition forms a reliable anchor point in life.  That is the good side.  But what is the shadow side of tradition?

It is the shadow side of tradition that we see at the beginning of Matthew 15.  Here, Jesus confronts the religious leaders of the day, especially how they had allowed their own traditions to trump the spiritual and social values that originated with God.  Rather than having tradition be a support for the community, they instead made tradition become the enforcer of community.  Even though they used spiritual-sounding language, they confused what they wanted with what God wanted.

Now, before we get too hard on the Pharisees (ie. the religious leaders), you and I should look at our own lives, churches, communities, and families, and ask if we have inadvertently elevated some of our own traditions so that they have become oppressive.  Jesus said that scriptural truths trump traditional practices, and if we put his teaching into action, transformation will happen!


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