Psalm 104: 1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30“…When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth …”
Mark 7: 14 - 23 Jesus said to the crowd, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within (from his heart) are what defile”.’…”
St. Miguel Febres Cordero (1854 – 1910) Born in Cuenca, Ecuador. He was the first native born Ecuadorian to join the de la Salle Christian Brothers. Miquel suffered poor health throughout his life. A good student, he became an educator, writing many of the books used in his classes. His academic specialty was Spanish. He traveled back and forth from Ecuador to Europe for his order as they utilized his academic skills. His prayer life showed in the works he produced. He had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and also to Mary. After his death from pneumonia in Spain, violence broke out several years later in 1936 and the chapel where he was buried was burned. His coffin was opened and his remains were found to be incorrupt. They were eventually returned to Ecuador. Taken from “John Paul II’s Book of Saints”, by Matthew and Margaret Bunson, and “Butler’s Lives of the Saints”.
In the readings today, I found it interesting to compare the instruction found in the first reading when God tells Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, or he will find himself doomed to die (I always thought both Adam and Eve received the instruction together). Then in the Gospel, Jesus tells the crowd and later further explains to his disciples that it’s not what you eat that defiles a person, but what comes from within, and he mentions the heart.
As I thought about the seeming discrepancy in the language I realized it did not represent a conflict at all. Looking at the first reading from Genesis, the reference to not eating seems to be about obedience, and man’s ability to show discipline. Adam and Eve had everything they could want, they were in paradise. To be asked to restrain themselves from eating from one tree in the garden seemed like a test of will power. Whereas, Jesus was telling the people of his time that all their restrictive rules (about eating) did not make them better people. Rather what’s important he said is what guides their hearts; this in turn determines their actions and how they treat one another. It ended up making sense, but I found it interesting that the Church would put the two readings together on the same day.
Though not perfect or without defilement, I found myself thinking about my own heart and how it had been shaped. As I’ve watched my parents grow older and move through the various stages, I’ve grown more nostalgic about where I am and how I got here. In thinking about what has shaped my heart, I know I am the most grateful for the gift of being able to appreciate. I know I’ve seen this gift lacking in people and know it would be hard to teach. In fact I think it might only be available naturally living under just the right circumstances. Some of that shaping came from knowing where my parents came from and from growing up in a big family where you didn’t get everything you wanted. It has all contributed to my receiving the greatest gift my parents could give me, the ability to appreciate. My Mom, bless her heart, grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska with conditions no better than those in developing countries today. She is one of the most content people I know and she remarks often how she knows she’s been blessed. So, today, I thank God with all my heart for all that He has done for me and my family, and pray I never lose site of this gift.
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