The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Today’s Mass Readings

Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17 and Mark 7:14-23

Today we hear about God creating man, planting a garden in Eden, and placing the man there, “with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God told the man that he may eat from any tree, but not from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “The moment you eat from it, you are surely doomed to die,” God warned. What a contrast we see between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life was in the center of the garden. The man was free to eat from it; its fruit was good. Does this tree not represent God’s will? Did this tree eventually become the cross upon which Christ was crucified – the tree of life? On the other hand, when we seek to define on our own what is good and what is bad, circumventing God’s law and will, we eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and are doomed to die. God planted both trees in the garden of Eden. In other words, He gave us a choice. It was our free will that He planted. This was  great gift from God. He hoped that we would choose the good.

In the Gospel, Jesus declares all foods clean when He says, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”  And, further, “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.” The Lord was warning against taking the restrictions about food, cleaning cups, purifying the hands, etc. too literally and applying them only externally. It is our hearts and minds that need to be cleansed and purified. Only then can we bring forth good fruit.

Consider our Blessed Mother on her feast today of Our Lady of Lourdes. What came forth from her? Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, God Himself. She was undefiled; she was not filled with evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, etc. Instead, she was filled with God’s grace.

Lord, in each moment, what do I choose to bring forth to the world? Am I eating from the tree of life, or from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

St. Bernadette, pray for us! Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

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