Reflection for Wednesday, February 12, 2020: 5th week in Ordinary Time.

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Tucci, Candice, O.S.F.
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|"Though I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes…Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard…She was breathless…Sheba gave King Solomon one hundred and twenty gold talents, a very large quantity of spices, and precious stones…." 1 Kings 10; 1-10|One of the more intriguing stories in scripture. So much so, movies, and remakes of old movies have been made in the search of King Solomon's mines! It captures what lengths people will go to obtain great wealth and prestige! Of course, the great romance is also left to one's imagination.|Then, in the Gospel we hear Jesus being very direct coming from his own human experience. I would say Jesus had a rather earthy spirituality in his graphic description of our digestive system to make his point!|Our time and culture is very body oriented toward what we physically put into our bodies…e.g. health foods, nutrition, doctored energy drinks, sugar free, fat free, etc…Yet too, there are also other items we put into our bodies through harmful drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, vaping, snuffing, and more.  True, too, our bodies have that great capacity to cleans itself and sometimes with our help. Yes, as Jesus says, what goes in, comes out! Our physical bodies are true gift to care for.  But, how well do we do it because sometimes what goes into the body does "defile" it. It does desecrate or profane something sacred—our bodies—the dwelling place of God. What about what comes from our hearts?|Jesus juxtapositions the physical body with the heart which is the dwelling place of spirit, of Holy Wisdom.  A conscience awareness of our relationship to body, spirit, and mind, I will add, is what Jesus, in rather strong language, directs us to. What makes us less human, less a people, are the "evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, greed, malice, and more as listed in the Gospel.  Yesterday we heard Jesus quote the prophet Isaiah, "his people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." What comes out from our hearts is the concern of Jesus. What comes out from our hearts can either defile or bless.|What wisdom do we practice in the use of what we have? Our wealth, health, bodies and relationships? How do we discern the spirits in making choices about how we live and what to do with what we have? How do we discern or think before we speak or act.? What enamors us or captures us so completely that we would give an abundance, a lifetime, or life to obtain it? Good or evil?  What do we give? What do we worship? What has become the new idols that give direction to our lives?|In a recent article by William T. Cavanaugh, Strange Gods, Idolatry in the Twenty-first Century, published in the January edition of Commonweal, writes, "Commodity fetishism is not simply an obsession with things. It is not materialism, but rather a kind of dematerialization. When use takes a back seat to exchange, commodities become vehicles for a flight into transcendence...Nike, for example, in an ad shows nothing but the swoosh and the words 'Write the Future.'"  |Cavanaugh shares in his research that a 1901 advertising manual reports the results of mass production in writing "they have wants which they did not recognize before." Have we left the high ground and wallow so low now to worship false gods, seek transcendence in manufactured items in and to the defilement of human nature? Humanity seems to be misplacing its true self for false gods.|Pope Francis from Evangelii Gaudium says, "We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."|Cavanaugh does end his article with hope. He calls for systemic changes to "free people from false worship." While it seems to be an overwhelming task, he points to Jesus telling his disciples, "For mortals, it is impossible, but for God, All things are possible." Remember too, Jesus tells us that anything we ask in his name, will be granted.|Solomon, if we read on, gets lost in his wealth, and turns to false gods and idols of his wives. Solomon does repent and experiences God's mercy.  Jesus through his life, death and resurrection tells us forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption and life are all possible. He is clear about the sacred and the profane.|I'd like to end with this reflection with the passage from 1 Peter, as I believe it captures Jesus' message of today's Gospel in a positive way, as well as giving us a path for conversion and transformation.|"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,|"Whoever would love life|and see good days|must keep their tongue from evil|and their lips from deceitful speech.|They must turn from evil and do good;|they must seek peace and pursue it.—1 Peter 3:8-11|Lent is not far off. Perhaps this is a bit of something for us to reflect about. It has been and is for me. Listen to Jesus for "The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom." -Psalm 37
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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