5th Week, Tuesday, Feb 9

 5th Week, Tuesday, Feb 9

Genesis 1:20 - 2:4 / Mark 7:1-13

Let birds fly across the sky; And God made all kinds of winged birds.

The Manx shearwater, a seagull-like bird, makes its home in tiny holes in a cliff on an island off the coast of Wales. One day a researcher caught one of these birds, put a band on its leg, and had it flown 3,000 miles to Boston.

There it was released by another researcher. Twelve and a half days later, it showed up again at the exact tiny hole from which it was taken. Scientists still can’t figure out how these birds have acquired such a remarkable power of navigation. The most logical answer is the one given in today’s reading: They are creations of God, who gave them this remarkable power.


Do we hold birds in reverence as signs of God’s creative love for us? “Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


After the creation of inanimate beings comes the creation of living beings: fish, birds, land animals, and the crowning achievement, man and woman, made in God’s image and likeness. They are special, for they are also put in charge of the whole of creation, for the task of working for the integrity of creation is heavy with responsibilities.

 After a period of initial fervour, the teaching of the Pharisees began to imply that people were to be sacrificed for the sake of the temple, that religious traditions (made by people and juridical) were more important than God’s laws, which are supposed to be interior to people and express a personal relationship. Jesus takes them to task for it. For the temple of the Lord is there for people, not people for the temple.


Children are always thrilled with balloons. More so if the balloons are filled with helium because they rise and you have to keep it attached to a string if you don't want to lose the helium balloons. It might sound like a silly question if I were to ask this question: Which helium balloon will rise faster - the red, the green, the blue or the yellow coloured one? Of course we will say that it is not the colour that mattered but what is inside the balloon. That may be obvious to us, but in other matters, things may become blurred.  The gospel cites one instance of the emphasis on washing of hands but neglecting the purity of heart. As Jesus puts it so profoundly - You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.  Yet the basis of the teachings of Jesus and His ministry is stated in the 1st reading. We are all created in the image and likeness of God and it is this image and likeness that Jesus came to save and restore. External appearances are necessary but they can never replace the internal essence of what we are made of and who made us. May our words and actions flow from the essence of the image and likeness of God within us.


    1. “This people honors me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from me.” Jesus calls his disciples to authenticity. Too often so-called disciples give the impression of following him, while at the same time accepting sensual loves and lusts in their heart. Although the Pharisees display the outward trappings of holiness, the way they treat Jesus and others betrays their true character. Jesus would call them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 15:27): clean and bright on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones within. Self-righteousness would be their downfall. Such dispositions may lend the proud man certain short-term security, but it will always be illusory since it is not rooted in the truth. Is there any way in which I also pay tribute to God with my lips but say something else in my heart, or behave contrariwise in my actions?

    2. “The worship they offer me is worthless.” True worship begins with humility when the soul recognizes that it possesses no good in and of itself, but that all of its goodness comes from God. The Pharisees offered no real worship to God since, in effect, they worshipped only themselves by relying more on their talents and goodness than on the goodness that comes from God. It is not insignificant that when Jesus describes a Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he says “The Pharisee prayed this prayer to himself” (Luke 18:11).  How can I make sure that my prayer is truly devoted, meaning that I am addressing Our Lord with the words of my heart?

    3. "You make God’s word null and void.” The Pharisees used the talents and gifts God had given them not for God’s glory, but for their own personal gain, whether that gain consisted of praise and admiration or personal comfort and ease. True worship of God, truly placing God above all else, involves using the things God created as means to reaching him. As number 226 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:  

                My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.

                My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.

                My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.”

    Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for my life and all the good things you have given me. Help me to realize that you have created everything and that all I have is from you. May I use all I have to serve others and as a means to come closer to you, the source of all good.

    Resolution: I will examine my conscience to see if I am using any of my gifts and talents to glorify or serve only myself. If so, I’ll strive to put these same gifts at the service of God.


Opening Prayer

Father, God of the ever-new covenant, you have tied us to yourself with leading strings of lasting love; the words you speak to us are spirit and life. Open our hearts to your words, that they may touch us in the deepest of ourselves. 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