What’s your favorite family tradition?
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We’ve had so many fun and touching family traditions. I’m blessed beyond belief to still be able to share holidays with Mom and Dad. We go to their house for the annual Fourth of July family bash. Thanksgiving dinner is Mom’s signature day. She still does almost all the cooking and most of the work. She is so in her element.
Growing up, we spent Christmases together with my grandparents, Christmas Eve at Babcia and Dziadzia Kwiecinski’s house and Christmas Day at Babcia and Dziadzia Konieczka’s house.
Without a doubt, my favorite Christmas tradition was and still is sharing oplatki. Oplatki is a flat wafer, resembling Communion wafer, although the texture and taste of oplatki is more like the wafer that those flying saucer candies came in.
Anyway, our oplatki tradition was — and still is — just before the meal, each of us takes a large piece of the wafer. Then we go around the room, breaking off a small piece of oplatki and offering a handshake, a hug, a kiss, or any combination thereof with each other. It’s crowded. It can get a little raucous, but it is a deliberate exchange of love and good wishes with those we love.
I look forward to that as much as anything else every year. It’s so special to me.
Today’s two readings for the Catholic Mass focus on the commandments and expectations that God has for each of our lives.
Moses instructs the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9) about the statutes and decrees that the Lord commanded him to teach them. Keeping the commandments was one means to demonstrate to other nations that they were a “wise and intelligent people.”
And Jesus tells His disciples (Matthew 5:17-19) that He has not come “to abolish the law or the prophets… but to fulfill.”
But what strikes me today is that both Jesus and Moses emphasize tradition.
The first reading particularly speaks to this. The reading from Deuteronomy closes with Moses saying:
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” – Deuteronomy 4:9
Moses is talking about the traditions of the Israelites. Sharing the stories of their time in Egypt and their time in the desert. I’d argue that this could include all the traditions of the Old Testament, although this is not what Moses says.
The Catholic Church is rich in tradition. It is truly the Christian tradition. Our traditions separated and segmented thousands of years after Moses, but the traditions of the Bible are ours.
I couldn’t help but think of the passionate song from Fiddler on the Roof when I read and listened to Moses.
We share a rich and glorious Judeo-Christian history and tradition. The commandments of God are woven into these traditions. The extension of Jesus’ command that the Ten Commandments are merely the baseline of how we’re to behave as Christians in order to gain entrance to Heaven.
Remember when I mentioned Purgatory yesterday?
Let’s consider that for just a second and consider what Jesus told the disciples.
Matthew’s Gospel, just after today’s Gospel passage, says:
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill…'” – Matthew 5:21
“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…” – Matthew 5:22
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'” – Matthew 5:27
“But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28
So… if every time I have looked cross-eyed at a pretty girl, I’ve committed adultery, if every time I’ve become angry with someone, I have essentially committed murder, my soul will require a whole lot of cleansing.
How long will I endure Purgatory when I die? If I’m not clean, if I’m not perfect, I cannot enter Heaven.
How am I cleansed? What will it take?
Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski
I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.