In many Christian circles, the word “tradition” can evoke negative images. We might think of church board meetings where someone ultimately raises the argument, “But we’ve always done it this way.” We rarely think of tradition as something fresh and relevant for now. However, Fr Ted Bobosch does. And I agree wholeheartedly with him:
Tradition, like Scripture, is not made holy by being carved into stone, but rather by being interpreted within a community, by being the heart of the community’s relationship to God and the world. Tradition is thus alive and constantly relating to the world, not written in stone and frozen in some past understanding. For St. Paul, Tradition is dynamic, creative, vivifying and renewing and keeps people focused on the goal – where God is leading us to, not the past and where we were. Tradition is not the ship’s anchor, but its sail. It consists not of repeating past teachings, but of interpreting God’s Word for the current generation.
Fr Ted then offers a lengthy quote by Sylvia C. Keesmaat that is worth reading. Bottom-line, Tradition sets our trajectory into the future. And “what gives a tradition its life is an effective interpretation for a new time and context.” This is worth some serious reflection.