Old Testament reading: Genesis 43-45
I guess I have grown “soft” as I have grown older. I despise the NY Yankees, but I never cease to be moved, nearly to tears, every time I hear Lou Gehrig’s final address in Yankee Stadium… “Today… I consider myself… the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” I get “a little verklempt” every time I see a soldier come home and surprise his family, every time I watch some special needs child make a basket or score a touchdown in a high school contest, every time I see my kids take another step toward maturity but farther from home. Today’s Old Testament reading (Genesis 43-45), like yesterday’s, is one I never read without being deeply moved. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes and read Genesis 42-45 without interruption and see if your heart is not pricked when you see him weeping alone after recognizing his brothers, see if you aren’t moved to tears when he sees Benjamin and when he reveals himself to them in chapter 45. Allow yourself to be moved by the narrative. This is not just a reading exercise in Jewish history.
New Testament reading: Mark 7-8
Today’s reading warns us by illustrating the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their adherence to human tradition. While the Pharisees were all about physical washing as a means to avoiding defilement, they were woefully inadequate in keeping spiritual defilement at bay. Following the human tradition of washing, they were diligent to keep their bodies pure through bathing and the washing of pots, but they wilfully set aside the commandment of God to honor their father and mother. Worse still, they rejected God’s commandment by excusing themselves that they were giving God a gift (7:11). I cannot help but be reminded of Saul and the children of Israel when they also set aside the commandment of God in order that they might bring Him a gift (1 Sam 15:3-15). Does God desire our gifts or does He desire our obedience? Samuel said that to obey was better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). In like fashion, many today have set aside the command of God that they might offer Him a gift, e.g., the exercise of some talent or ability. But we cannot offer as a gift to God that which He has not authorized, lest we fall under the same condemnation.