5th Week, Wednesday, Feb 10

 5th Week, Wednesday, Feb 10

Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17 / Mark 7:14-23 

As yet there were no humans; So, God formed a man.


In one of his books, Dr. James Dobson cites an essay written by a third-grader. Called “What Is a Grandmother?” it makes delightful reading. Here are three excerpts from it. “Grandmothers don’t have to be smart, only answer questions like, ‘Why isn’t God married?’ and ‘How come dogs chase cats?’”

“A grandmother is a lady with no children of her own.... She likes other people’s little girls and boys.” The third-grader concluded, saying, “Everyone should have a grandmother, especially if they don’t have TV.”


Do we hold people—especially the very young and the very old—in reverence as a sign of God’s creative love for us? “Age is a matter of mind; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Author unknown


After the creation poem of Gen 1, we get a second version of the creation, especially of the Earth Man (Adam, drawn from adamah, earth) in a down-to-earth story. The human person breathes with the same life-giving breath (spirit, ruah) as God, at least in the sense that he or she has to breathe at the same rhythm as God. Then the human person is placed in a royal garden, paradise, to cultivate it. 

Divided, too, were the hearts of the Pharisees, as Jesus points out in the gospel; their interior attitude did not correspond to their outward practices. The question of pure/impure was very important for the early Church, as it was one of the strongest traditions of the Jews and a point of contention for them. Hence, the Christians coming from Jewry asked themselves whether they could eat from the same table with non-Jews. According to Mark, in the light of creation that sees all foods as created good and pure, in the kingdom the rules about food are abolished.


In the Bible, the verb "to eat" has a deeper meaning than just consuming food. To eat can mean to be in communion with another person or persons, or to be in an intimate relationship with someone. So, for the Jews, who they eat with is significant and important. Another meaning of the verb "to eat" can also mean to know, or to have knowledge of something or someone. 

For the Jews, they had a long-standing tradition of what is ritually clean and unclean foods. So when Jesus said that nothing goes into a  man from outside can make him unclean, he actually knocked away one of the pillars of their cultural and religious tradition. 

On the other hand, Jesus connected the act of eating with the knowledge of what is sin. Similarly, in the 1st reading, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 

When we sin, we eat of the fruit of evil and our hearts become filled with evil, and death and destruction happen from within. 

In the Eucharist, we gather to partake of Jesus, who is the Bread of Life so as to be in communion with Him. May we be filled with the life of the Spirit so that we will speak words of love that will give life to others.


    Encountering Christ: 

    1. Attentiveness and Understanding: How fascinating and humbling that God became a man and then asked us to pay attention to his words. God never forces his messages upon us nor does he demand our attention. He desires our free and open response, for only with that can he work in our lives with generosity and love. He turned to the crowds and to his followers, asking them to listen closely. Here, now, in this moment of prayer, Jesus is also inviting us to listen closely to his words in Scripture and also to his words in the silence of our hearts, the circumstances of our lives, and even the suffering we experience today. Are we listening? 

    2. Jesus Seeks to Nourish Us: The Jewish people had many rules about almost all aspects of life, including food. Certain foods were clean, others unclean. Foods also needed to be prepared and eaten in a certain way. Such an ordinary part of life was raised to the level of religious practice and became a matter of individual righteousness. Jesus wanted to restore the image of God’s goodness and providence. From the moment of creation, God gave us everything to enjoy as a gift and to care for as its stewards. Jesus wants us to enjoy all that God has provided for us, down to the food we eat, so that we can be nourished and not scrupulous. How easy it is to sometimes put certain things into categories of “good” or “bad” based on subjective opinions. This Gospel is an invitation to see all of creation with God’s eyes and to use his gifts wisely. 

    3. The Heart of the Matter: Clearly, the point of the passage is not what should be eaten for dinner. Rather, it is about something much deeper and very precious to Jesus: the human heart. Jesus came to establish his kingdom, not with armies or castles, but through grace and conversion of the human heart. He sees the evil we sometimes do–unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly–and he passionately desires to enter and possess each person’s heart, so that he can transform it into a vessel of his love and light. Yet, he cannot enter without our consent. He stands outside our inner door and knocks softly, waiting for us to open the door and allow him in.  

    Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I want to sit at your feet and allow you to teach me today about what is most important to you. You are interested in entering my heart— purifying it and transforming it for your glory. Jesus, please enter my heart now. Show me what is really there and make it like yours in all things.  

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will carry you with me in my heart. Grant me the grace to listen to you, not only in this time of prayer but all throughout my day. May your words teach me to see my day through your eyes and to focus on what is most important. 


Opening Prayer 

Father, God of the ever-new covenant, you have tied us to yourself with leading strings of everlasting love; the words you speak to us are spirit and life. May your Spirit make us look at the commandments not as a set of observances. May they move us to serve you not in a slavish way, but as your sons and daughters who love you and whom you have set free through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen