FEBRUARY 9, 2011: WEDNESDAY OF 5TH WEEK- GENESIS 2:4b-9, 15-17; MARK 7:14-23

Jesus said: “It is the things that come out of someone that make a person unclean  With these words, our Lord gave expression to a radical vision of our human condition.  Today’s Gospel text presents this teaching with an introductory comment that lends added emphasis and clarity to his word.  Our Lord first stated that “Nothing that goes into someone from the outside can make that person unclean.”  Saint Mark here makes the observation that in this brief discourse the Lord pronounced all foods clean.” In doing so, he abrogated the food laws considered sacred by the Jewish authorities of his day.  They did not receive this teaching lightly but, as we are told elsewhere, challenged it, and never forgave him for claiming a higher authority than that of Moses.

As the sequel makes evident, especially in Saint John’s Gospel, the Pharisees and Sadducees felt deeply threatened by the implications of such a pronouncement.  When they finally accosted him openly the tension between him and these guardians of Mosaic tradition and law, the deep-seated resentment they felt and cherished gave rise to explicit charges as they said to his face: “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and possessed by a devil?” (John 8:48)  Rather than retract his claims, our Lord spoke out with an even bolder assertion: “In all truth I tell you, before Abraham ever was, I am.”  These Jews rightly understood that in so speaking he presented himself as divine and so sought to stone him to death as the law prescribed for blasphemy.

The principle taught by our Lord in today’s Gospel passage, then derives from his authority as the Son of God, invested with an authority surpassing that of Moses. In fact, he teaches here with the supreme right of God Himself.  In this affirmation of our human interior freedom, then, Jesus initiates a fresh concept of our dignity and empowers us to realize our responsibility before God our Creator and Father.

At this Eucharist we come together to thank God through his Son for liberation, and for the confidence He gives us, that is the fruit of the grace of his Holy Spirit. We ask that we might prove worthy of his favor in our life today and all the days remaining to us.  By our faith and fidelity to our Lord and his teaching, may we always assist one another as we strive to witness to the love and mercy shown us in our communion in the risen Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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