The Gospel reading for today shows how the Pharisees protected the Jews from committing grave sin. In many cases, they enacted ritual laws that went further than God’s law. For example, we know that Jews wouldn’t say “God”, thanks to rules in the Mosaic law which went further than God’s first Commandment, not to take the name of the Lord in vain.
Today, however, we repress the original meaning of things, like today’s fight for the meaning of marriage. Secular society corrupts religious practice. Today is Mardi Gras. Everyone thinks that Mardi Gras is a ‘pagan’ holiday, a pagan celebration, because of all the parades named after the pantheon of gods in ancient society, and the general debauchery that occurs today. In a post I wrote last Lent, I explained briefly how many religious holidays, like Hallowe’en, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day have been corrupted into excuses to party and get drunk.
Mardi Gras used to be that way. Mardi Gras is a preparation for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In previous times, the rich would give their excesses to the poor, walking through the streets, distributing clothing and food, just the way today the parade members throw beads and trinkets to the drunken crowd. The reasons for the crowds to celebrate were different, as well. Imagine being a peasant and that your normal meal might be bread and milk. Mardi Gras comes around, and the lords and ladies of the castle begin the parade, handing out clothes, chickens, eggs, even a farming tool. The parade continues all day until sundown, when everyone retires to prepare for the penance season of Lent…
Fr. Mitch Pacwa gives a poignant reflection on the day…go to www.ewtn.com/podcast/index.asp and click on the Tuesday Homily. It’s not up yet, but should be soon…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4WzgXH6vEM&feature=player_detailpage