Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – February 10, 2022
5th Week Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year C
Readings: 1 Kgs 11:4-13, Ps 106:3-4, 35-37, 40, Gospel Mk 7:24-30
Memorial of St. Scholastica – Virgin
Theme: Do the Good You Want
“For I don’t do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (Rom 7:19). St. Paul wrote those words to help others understand the interaction between the law and sin. We can extrapolate St. Paul’s teaching on this subject to God and His covenants and Jesus and His teachings.
The commentary for this verse within chapter 7 of Romans, verses 13-25, explains how the law can draw out sinful behavior in people by its very definition of what we should or should not do.
“Far from improving the sinner, law encourages sin to expose itself in transgressions or violations of specific commandments. Thus, persons who do not experience the justifying grace of God, and Christians who revert to dependance on the law as criterion for their relationship with God, will recognize a rift between their reasoned desire for the goodness of the law and their actual performance that is contrary to the law.” 1
We do not do the good we should but do the evil we should not. Rules and laws are there to keep us on track, to point us toward the good, but they can also be a trap for us, too, if we allow them to become the defining covenant of our lives. In today’s readings we see two contrasting applications of St. Paul’s teaching.
For Solomon, it was the entrapments of the secular world that caused him to deviate from the law (covenant) with God by worshiping other god’s and idols. God’s covenant, with its definition for a fruitful life with Him, was overshadowed by the temporal trappings of human desire and pride. Solomon gave up on the covenant with God and took the easier, more pleasurable route by worshiping the idols of his wives. This pumped up his relationships with his wives instead of God and bloated his pride in his kingship. God was not happy with Solomon and so Solomon suffered the consequences of his sin against the covenant.
On the contrary, we see the grace of a proper understanding of the law and sin in the Greek woman’s interaction with Jesus in Mark’s Gospel today. Being a gentile and most likely a Greek god idol worshiper, she recognized Jesus and knew of His teachings and the miracles He performed. She vanquished her sin of idol worship and put her trust in Jesus and His teachings, even though the law was not on her side (she was a sinful gentile, one that Jew’s stayed away from according to the law). Her request of Jesus to heal her daughter would not be put off. She knew, as did Jesus, that a contrite heart with complete faith in the living God, regardless of human law but in keeping with God’s law, would not be denied.
Solomon gave in to the pleasures of an earthly life, breaking the covenant and doing evil in the sight of God while the Greek woman trusted in God’s grace and providence to look beyond her sinfulness and join her to the covenant of Christ’s grace and mercy.
In order for us to be more like the Greek woman, instead of Solomon, we need to have the humility to know we are sinners and that we can be saved through a contrite heart and complete faith in Jesus Christ. Follow Jesus and do the good you want and do not do the evil you do not want!
1 St. Joseph New American Bible Commentary