1 Kings 10:1-10
The things that come out of you make you unclear. If you have ears to hear, listen to this.
Today we start with the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon.
Even in Old Testament times, there was a sense that wisdom was important. So the journey of the Queen of Sheba to visit Solomon, the wise one, is an important story in our shared story.
For hundreds of years Sheba was a leading principality. It was situated in what is now called modern Yemen. It was not rare that from the 8th century BC onward Arab women ruled their territories. So this wealthy and powerful woman was intrigued to check out the story of Solomon’s wisdom. She came with much wealth and many questions.
She wanted to test out everything that she had heard. And she was impressed. This was because Solomon was a good, true and caring leader. It was Solomon at his best before he was overtaken by pride, lust and the lust for power. This was the time before Solomon had come to believe the fable of his own greatness. So it is good to listen and learn from others to better know how to live our own lives.
Then we move to the gospel word from Mark. He is perhaps the earliest one to write down the story of Jesus. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus is a young man in a hurry. He is keen to push back the horizon of evil to make it easier for people to breathe in the goodness of God and of life. In this segment, we are presented with the words of Jesus that start to include us in an open secret. Jesus speaks of the “kingdom of God”, or the reign of God, or God’s taste for helping life to unfold. This power of God is breaking into our human situation to make it possible for us to make a deep revision of human values. Jesus puts the interpretation of the Mosaic laws about food and eating and rules of cleanliness to the test by reflecting them back to us in the light of God’s view of life and how we might receive this wonderful gift. With these words, Jesus declares all foods clean.
He challenges us to move beyond a narrow, legalistic interpretation of dietary and food laws and to find the freedom to live with a sense of gratitude and freedom in the world with which we are graced. It’s not what we eat or take in that makes us unclean. Rather it is what comes from our hearts that determines whether we are clean or not.
Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.