TUESDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Genesis 6: 5-8, 7: 1-5, 10
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.
And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth.
Psalm 29: 1-3c, 9c-10, 11b
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Mark 8: 14-21
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Over the past several days, the Genesis readings have shown us God’s perfect will for humanity, our fall from grace, and how quickly the destructiveness of sin set in. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the fruit He had forbidden. Within one generation, what appears to be a minor infraction turned to murder. And very shortly after that, the Scriptures tell us that the inclination of every human heart was only to evil, with no place for God -- except for Noah.
Noah prefigures Christ through his obedience and in the way that his obedience was used by the Father to redeem mankind. He was not perfect, and occasionally made mistakes like any other person, but in his heart he desired God’s will and was obedient, even when he did not understand everything God was doing. At the time of the Flood, he was the only man on earth whose heart was inclined this way, but that was enough for the Lord.
Jesus warns His disciples to guard their hearts against the “yeast” of the Pharisees and of Herod. Though Jesus encountered many sinners throughout His ministry, what distinguished the Pharisees and Herod was that there was no place in their hearts for God. Whereas others came to Jesus in their need, these leaders were sustained by human admiration and a sense of their own power and control. They clung to this power so tightly that they could not receive the Lord; like Cain, they were envious and felt threatened by Jesus and this is what led them to kill Him. While Herod and the Pharisees were already far down that path, unfortunately, nobody is immune from the same tendency. One must be proactive to keep evil from taking root even in the most subtle ways.
The Scriptures remind us that God has power over all His creation. In an instant, He can wipe away what He has created, and He can multiply loaves to feed immense crowds. But He cannot force the human heart to order itself rightly and to obey Him. That part is on us.
The introit for tomorrow’s Mass says: “You are merciful to all, O Lord, and despise nothing that you have made. You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God.” As we enter Lent tomorrow, let us thank the Lord for His love and mercy, and embrace the opportunity to examine our hearts more carefully. Ask the Lord to reveal any sinful patterns in your thoughts or actions that may be trying to take hold, and know that, while you must make the choice to repent, He is quick to provide all the grace you need. Come to Him with all your needs today, physical and spiritual, and thank Him ahead of time for what He has in store for you this Lent.