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Be Recreated

Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Genesis 2:4B-9, 15-17

At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—
while as yet there was no field shrub on earth
and no grass of the field had sprouted,
for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth
and there was no man to till the soil,
but a stream was welling up out of the earth
and was watering all the surface of the ground—
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.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The LORD God then took the man
and settled him in the garden of Eden,
to cultivate and care for it.
The LORD God gave man this order:
“You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
From that tree you shall not eat;
the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 104:1-2A, 27-28, 29BC-30

R. (1a) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
All creatures look to you
to give them food in due time.
When you give it to them, they gather it;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Gospel: Mark 7:14-23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

NAB

I’ve always been far more familiar with the first creation story of Genesis—the seven days and seven nights one. Today, though, we get that second creation story. The barren earth. A spring, watering the earth, muddying the ground for God to create the first man out of clay.

Wet clay is not something I want to deal with most of the time. It sounds like a lot of mess. And a stream welling up from the ground? That sounds like something unexpected that I can’t channel or control. Even if a powerful spring sprays out water that’s clear and lovely, it could still crack the foundation of my basement or turn my yard into a swamp. I would simply rather turn a sprinkler on.

Tidy and predictable is not always how the Spirit works. Sometimes the growing process is messy. The Holy Spirit wells up to water the whole earth. It spills out over cracked, arid land—turning it into fertile ground, but first, into mud.

I would like to be in charge of the water spilling out into my life. I like that sprinkler because I am in charge. I can move it to a new spot where I think the garden really needs it. I can turn it off when everything is done, everything properly hydrated, never wasting resources. But the Water of Creation doesn’t follow my rules. I can’t route it into irrigation or dam it up. That water is flowing into my life whether I think I need it or not. And the ensuing mud and clay needs to be embraced, too.

When that stream really gets flowing, I often root my feet down in the clay, resistant to change. Maybe what I need is to let the stream flow through my cracked-earth heart, turning it into clay for God to recreate and breathe life into.

Where is the mud in your life? Is it fertile ground for God to recreate you?

Brigid Hogan is a midwestern graduate student who finds peace in lakes, the Mass, and fiction when she isn’t ensconced in schoolwork. Find out more about her here.

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