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February 13, 2019: Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Genesis 2:4-9,15-17
Gospel Mark 7:14-23

“...the things that come from within are what defile.”

Jesus speaks at length, and quite unflatteringly, about what comes from “within the man, from his heart”. He mentions thirteen evils, though one gets the impression that He easily could have continued. He is describing the fallen human heart, which does not have the law of God within. Jesus wants us to realize our utter need for grace.

Consider this in light of today’s First Reading from the Book of Genesis. We hear the beginning of one of Scripture’s accounts of the creation of man: “the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” The phrase “the breath of life” we might consider as a description of the human soul. While man resembles other animals in many ways, it’s by means of this breath that man transcends them.

However, the Latin proverb reminds us that “corruptio optimi, pessima”: “the corruption of the best results in the worst.” By sin—as we will hear in Friday’s and Saturday’s First Readings—God’s gift of the breath of life becomes the very source of death. This death has many names, and Jesus give us only thirteen in today’s Gospel passage. Such is the power that each human person has: to disallow God from working through God’s own creation.