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The Breath of Life

First Reading: Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground — then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:1-2, 27-30
Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty, who coverest thyself with light as with a garment, who hast stretched out the heavens like a tent, These all look to thee, to give them their food in due season. When thou givest to them, they gather it up; when thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good things. When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground.

Gospel: Mark 7:14-23
And he called the people to him again, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”

ESV

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The readings from today end on a pretty dour note. Their message is clear and more than a little disheartening. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of that message nor do I want to ignore it. We are sinners living in a fallen world and we need to acknowledge and confront the sins in our lives and their roots.

But today that’s not what I want to focus on.

Today I want to ponder this: God has breathed into us the breath of life. He gathered up the very dust of the ground and with it He formed us in His image. And then He breathed into us.

It seems almost ridiculous that He would stoop to breathe into us, to bestow on dirt and ash so great a gift as His very image and to then fill it with His very breath. His act of creation seems to foreshadow the rest of salvation history. “He fills the lowly with good things . . .” and “Behold  I make all things new.”

This gives me hope. If every nook and cranny of my inmost being has been filled with His Breath, and if all my heart and soul and body has been redeemed by the Blood and the Grace pouring out of Christ crucified, then I can rise above the evil in my heart.

Going forward let’s set aside any fear or beliefs that we are the sum of our sins. Going forward let’s open our hearts and ask God to once again fill them with His Holy Spirit. God renews the face of the earth—how much more He will do for us!

Are you open to His breath?

photo credit

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and five children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.

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