Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

2019 Devotions Daily Devotions February

Gn 1:20-2:4a; Ps 8:4-9; Mk 7:1-13:  What is man that you should be mindful of him?  Who are we that the LORD God Almighty even takes notice of us?  Our beauty and goodness have been distorted and twisted by sin.  Even after his Paschal Mystery has liberated us from sin and evil, still we continue to long for sin and lean toward evil.  Sin survives and concupiscence thrives.  After beholding the beauty of heaven and earth, the work of God’s own fingers, why would the LORD take any notice of his rebellious children?  From the sixth day of creation the LORD has made us little less than the angels; He has crowned us with glory and honor.  The Creator has given us rule over the works of His hands, putting all things under our feet.  Yes, all things—the sheep and the oxen, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas. Yes, to all creation the LORD God proclaims, “it is good.”  At the end of the sixth day of creation the LORD God proclaims, “it is very good.” Why?  Perhaps, He was so jubilant because of the creation of man—in His own image and likeness.  When the LORD delivered His Law to the people through his servant Moses, He intended to guide us into the mystery of our own true identity.  However, even the Law was used to enslave rather than liberate the beauty and goodness of man, the centerpiece of the creation.

Both the seas and the skies are filled with creatures, great and small.  The birds from the humming bird to the great bald eagle roam about the vast blue skies; the sky teems with such beauty and might.  The sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures fill the oceans with nourishment and danger.  All these flying and swimming creatures populate the waters above and below the dome of heaven.  Still with the final day of creation the LORD God made all the animals, wild and tame to populate the land.  In the midst of this great and awesome creation the LORD God commanded men and women into being.   Because they were made in His own image and likeness they were to rule over all the other creatures.  They were given all things, every plant and every animal as food for daily delight. Finally, man and all creation was given the blessing of rest from work.  This is the great gift of the Sabbath day, the seventh day on which the LORD God rested.  The story of creation is not complete without a seventh day for pausing and contemplating with the eyes of the LORD all the goodness and beauty he had made.  Indeed, we are summoned to behold with awe and wonder and cry out with joy and gladness that “this is very good.”

Even the Law of the Lord can be used as an excuse for ignoring the Law of the Lord.  At the time of the Lord Jesus, the Pharisees were well known for the purity of their observance.  In a zealous attempt to be sure that the Law was observed, they put up a fence around the Law.  Going beyond that fence was as dangerous as going beyond the Law itself.  Yet, this attitude degenerated into the manipulation of the Law and a using of the commands to feather one’s nest.  The Lord Jesus picked up on this distortion and challenged the Pharisees, even as they were looking out to prove to the crowds that he was unfaithful and not worthy of their trust.  They complained that he and his disciples did not carefully wash their hands before eating.  In response to this accusation the Lord Jesus quotes the Prophet Isaiah:  “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me!”  Isaiah did not hold back, neither does the Lord Jesus.  The Lord reminds the Pharisees that they declared some money to be “qorban,” which means dedicated to God.  Once money has been given over to God it cannot be used to provide for parents or meet any other human need.  It’s as if God needed money.  Such a twisting of the law to avoid the intent of the law destroys devotion to the LORD God and to our parents.  Ultimately, such a manipulation of the law will be used to destroy the Lord Jesus. He is dangerous to the Pharisees and the leaders who are unable to control him.  The intimacy of the Lord Jesus with the Source and Giver of the Law liberates him from the power of those who nullify the word of God in favor of their favorite traditions.  What makes the Lord Jesus even more dangerous is that he teaches others to live in the freedom of the children of God.