Scripture: 1st Reading: 1Kgs10,1-10; Resp. Psalm: Ps37,5-6,30-31,39-40; Gosp. Accl.: Jn17,17; Gospel: Mk7,14-23
When the glory of God shines on the life of a person, the person becomes irresistible, a magnet, an attraction. It seems as if the entire world revolves around the person. This is because the glory of God attracts, ennobles, dignifies, raises one from nothing to something.
Yahweh promised King Solomon a wisdom that no person born of man had ever had and would ever have. When God promises, He fulfills. That promise was fulfilled in Solomon's life. This king ruled with such wisdom that his fame spread everywhere. The word of God today tells us that the Queen of Sheba came to test the wisdom of Solomon.
The wisdom Yahweh gave to this king cut across every aspect of his life: the governance of his kingdom, his officials, the houses he built, his servants and their court ceremonials, the sacrificial systems in the temple built by him to mention but a few. There was such magnificence in all that this king did.
Solomon was richly blessed by Yahweh. So long as the heart of this king was with Yahweh his God, he remained the centre of attraction. The queen of Sheba did not just come to ask questions. She brought gifts to Solomon: gold, precious stones and a very great quantity of spices. Solomon prospered so long as his heart was with Yahweh his God and the God of his fathers.
The depth of the heart is all that matters. The content of that depth is all that counts. That was the point our Lord made today in the gospel reading. The Pharisees and the scribes yesterday questioned our Lord concerning laws of purification before eating. Our Lord continued His response today by telling them that the content of the heart of man, what lies within those depths that no eye can see, is what really matters.
According to our Lord, what comes from without cannot render a person ritually unclean because what goes into the mouth is something that is edible that gives benefit to the body. But what comes out of a person is the one that defiles the person: "evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness."
Many times in our lives we are besotted with externals: we want to appear good, look good, show ourselves off as holy, righteous, kind, generous, loving, open handed, large hearted, empathetic, religious. But are we really who we show others we are? Are these really proceeding from deep within us? Are we really convinced about them?
Let us beware of what goes on within us. Let us purify our inner selves from wicked thoughts and desires. Let us pay more attention to our relationship with God, not with how people see us. St. Josephine Bakhita was captured by slave merchants from her Sudanese home and sold several times as a slave.
St. Josephine Bakhita suffered horrendous tortures from her various masters and mistresses. But she saw all these as means that led her to Christ our Lord. She gave her life to Jesus, became a Catholic and later a nun with the Canossian missionary sisters. She lived a very humble, simple and holy life. May she intercede for us.
Let us pray: "O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ, grant, we pray, that by her example, we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified, remaining steadfast in charity and prompt to show compassion." Amen.