Genesis 1: 20-2:|4a; Psalm 8: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Mark 7: 1-13
As we continue our journey through Genesis and the other readings, we are reminded of the special role of humans. They are the climax of creation, they are made in the image and likeness of GOD. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds the religious leaders that the relationship between GOD and humans is more important than the human laws and regulations, particularly those which separate humans from increasing their relationship with GOD.
We pick up the first account of creation (Genesis 1:1-2:4) where we left off yesterday. Yesterday ended on the fourth day with the creation of vegetation. On the fifth day, GOD created the birds and the sea creatures. Building up to the climax of creation, GOD starts the sixth day with the creation of land animals. The high point of GOD’s creative energy is in human beings who are made in the image and likeness of GOD. On the previous five days, GOD concludes the day’s work by looking at what had been created and saying, “It is GOoD.” On the sixth day, after the creation of man and woman, GOD finds creation “very GOoD.”
The psalm reverberates with the specialness of humankind. GOD created humans and gave them a position of caretakers of the rest of creation. GOD has endowed man and woman with the highest position in all earthly creation, but it is also a position of responsibility.
In the Gospel, Jesus is challenged by the strict, legalistic religious leaders because His disciples were eating without going through the ritualistic cleansing, according to the Jewish tradition. Jesus responds by putting the human-made traditions in a subordinate position to the relationship which GOD wants to have with mortals.
As I reflect on the readings I see a certain order being emphasized. GOD, obviously, is at the top of this order. GOD created everything. Nothing has come to be without GOD’s willing it. On earth, the next position is given to humans. They have the privilege of having control over the lesser parts of GOD’s creation. Yet with the privilege comes a need to care for the rest of creation. Men and women are made caretakers of creation. They are always to do as GOD would have them do, not just what they want to do.
When mortals start thinking that they are as important as GOD and can dictate rules and regulations as if they were GOD, it is then that things start to fall apart. Jesus reprimands the religious leaders who have taken on too much authority and caused problems for other people because of their lording it over others.
The readings leave me humbled and challenged. I can resonate with the today’s psalmist who contemplates GOD’s majesty and at the same time realizes how GOD has blessed humankind with a unique connection with the divine being. GOD not only loves humanity as a whole, but each and every person individually.
The feeling of being challenged flows from the concept of stewardship or caretaker-hood that GOD has given to human beings. We, as a whole, are charged with the caring for the rest of creation. We are to manage what GOD has entrusted to us. This responsibility is not just for humanity as a whole, but also for each and everyone of us as individuals. We must take our duty as overseers of the lower range of creation with the most conscientious approach possible. The world is not ours to squander and use up.
Conservation, recycling, care of earth are not just important human qualities to possess. They are GOD-given responsibility shared with us as the “very GOoD” part of the creation GOD has created. We are called to be images and likenesses of GOD. We must use our intellectual ability, emotional concerns, and our physical strengthen to demonstrate that the world in which we have been privileged to live is GOD’s creation, not ours.
If we reflect on our role as the climax of creation and the responsibilities which come with that, we will be able to pray with the psalmist today and say: “When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place —What are humans that You should be mindful of them, or the children of mortals that you should care for them? You have made them little less than the angels, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of Your hands, putting all things under their feet.”
- The personal question/action for today: When I ponder all creation, what thoughts go through my mind in regards to GOD being the Creator and my position in regards to the rest of creation? How have I taken seriously my responsibility as a caretaker of that which GOD has created? Have I placed rules and regulations above my relationship to GOD and to other people? What will I do today to show a greater appreciation of the order GOD has put into creation? How will I help others to see this divine order?
Blessed are You, LORD GOD, ever-loving Creator and Sustainer of all You have created. Through Your GOoDness, You have chosen to create life, placing men and women as the most important of earthly creatures. You have made us in Your own divine image and likeness, empowering us to be Your representatives to the rest of creation, challenging us to care for Your creation with the same thoughtfulness and love that You used in creating and maintaining the universe and all that is in it. We have sometimes taken advantage of what You have given us. We have squandered valuable resources for selfish reasons. We have failed to see the privileged position You have given to us. We have made rules and regulations to force others to do our will rather than assist them in doing Your will. For our sinful ways, we seek Your pardon and peace. Through the power and guidance of Your Holy Spirit, make us more conscientiously aware of our privilege and duty as the climax of Your creation. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our Brother, Who reminded us of our responsibility to care for other human beings and all creation. It is He Who co-created the universe with You, and Who now is living and reigning with You and Your Holy Spirit, our one and only GOD, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection by Bob Kondrath