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He Rewrote the Rules

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin

First Reading: Genesis 3:1-8

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden
at the breezy time of the day,
the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God
among the trees of the garden.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (1a) Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.

Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

NAB

Why was the man in this Gospel passage from Mark born without hearing, without clear speech? Why would Jesus, God-made-man, have gone through the trouble of creating him “imperfectly” in the first place? Could not an all-powerful, healing God have preempted this man’s suffering and created him without the physical impediments in the first place?

Why was Eve allowed to bomb the test so spectacularly? And for that matter, why would God—the Lord God who made all creatures—have created the cunning Lucifer in the full knowledge of his fall, his spectacular, universe-shattering fall from grace, dragging down a third of his angelic brethren and the entire human race along with him?

Lord, Your ways are not our ways. And Your respect for free will outstrips the bounds of my imagination. I cannot fathom a love that does not calculate, that does not control and coerce and arrange “just so,” ensuring that no imperfection is left to chance.

But Your love demands not robotic obedience, but repentant and freely given hearts offered to You from the humble hands of the creatures You bled and died for. Unfathomable, that Your plans for us include wild aberrations like a deaf and dumb man, rising from the dust of his circumstances and the life the world had pressed upon him, to demand, with confidence, “No more. You have more for me.”

And Eve, mother of all the living. Throwing away her inheritance for a chance at control. And receiving in return, not deserved destruction, but the Protoevangelium. The promise of the One who is to come. To descend into our dirt, and to scoop and mix that dirt in His eventually-pierced palms with His saliva, mingled with the breath that created the universe, and make us whole.

God’s ways are not our ways. And no matter how certain I am that my plan is superior, when I fail to lay it at His feet in trusting surrender, I lose out, every time. Jesus’ kingdom is upside down. And when He reaches with His mighty strength into the dirt to raise the lowly up, I want to be able to extend my arms and allow Him to rescue me. To admit that just like Eve, the man in the dirt, and the thief on the cross, I too need a savior.

Can you pray a Rosary today, or even a decade, requesting God help you to accept the mysteries in your life?

Jenny Uebbing is a freelance editor and a writer for Catholic News Agency, where she blogs about faith, sex, the culture and the Catholic Church. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Dave and their growing family.

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