Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
February 7, A.D. 2007
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17
Psalm 104:1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30
A brief reflection on today's Scripture passages:
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person . . . (Mark 7:15)
While this seems a mere side-issue to today's reading, it is something we don't often think about. God made all of creation good. When humankind failed and fell, they brought their own destruction down upon nature as well. During the time of the people of Israel, God made a covenant which included 617 laws about what was good and what was unclean. Certain kinds of food, certain illnesses, and certain events in life made people "unclean" and "unfit" to serve the Lord.
What Jesus says here is that none of that matters. You cannot be defiled by eating pork or by eating a roast beef and cheese sandwich. You can't be defiled by preparing the body of a loved one who has died. You can't be defiled by aiding a leper. None of that defiles you. Only what you hold in your heart and what your tongue speaks (for the tongue speaks out of the fullness of the heart) can truly defile.
Jesus proclaims here a liberty, a release from the duty of the law that institutes the new law of compassion. The leper is not unclean because of his sores, nor will I be made unclean by attending to him. The poor person wearing shabby clothes is not unclean because of their outer garments, nor will I be made unclean by feeding and clothing that person. There is nothing outside of one that makes one unclean--only the secrets of the heart--the judgments we issue and act upon. We are made unclean only by what we fail to do in love.
So, we are not made unclean by the leper, but we are made unclean by thinking this person is unworthy of our compassion or love. We are not made unclean by preaching to sinners and to those in prison, but we are defiled when we spend our time judging them. We are not made unclean by anything that comes from outside of us. Because of the fall, there is a sufficient spring of uncleanness within. However, Jesus can and does heal that. Jesus is there to relieve us of the burden of our judgments and our hard hearts. Jesus is there to stop up the spring of defilement and to wash us clean--blazing white in the light of God. All we need do is turn our hearts to Him in the moments of temptation and ask for His help and His love to win out. It always will.
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Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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