One of the gifts of Fathers’ Day – which we celebrate today in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea – is the impunity that it gives to fathers today to tell Dad jokes. Even though it might invoke a deep groan on other days, today we are more inclined to declare these to be hilarious. One of the lovely things about a joke is that it opens up to teller and hearer an understanding of a mutual, sometimes hidden, worldview. But this breaks down when you have to explain yourself and the context. Mark is faced with this in today’s Gospel. When writing to a new Jewish audience, he has to provide little editorial asides to us to explain what the issue is, so that the words of Jesus make sense. The reading would also make more sense if we read the entire passage, rather than the three extracts that we are given by the liturgy.
Sometimes this passage is interpreted as a conflict between scripture and tradition; others say it is between ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ but in fact it is much deeper and points to how we are meant to understand the law as a whole.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (8’45”)