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Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Gen. 2:4-9, 15-17 & Mk. 7:14-23

When God created the world He gave people a special power setting them apart from all other creatures. That power is freedom.

Unlike animals we are not completely controlled by instinct. A hungry animal confronted with food, has no option but to eat. A hungry person can, for whatever reason, choose not to eat. The Bible uses the symbol of food to illustrate our freedom. God wants us to choose the things that He tells us are truly good, not those things which merely appear good.

Freedom is a dangerous power and in giving us freedom God ran the risk that we would abuse it. He took that risk because He loves us and wants us to return His love willingly. We are not robots compelled to respond to a command; we are free, responsible people with power to choose and God values our love when it is freely given.

One way in which we use our freedom is by choosing how we spend our time. When we give some time to God we know our gift pleases Him. If we spend too much time watching television He will not be pleased!

Some people are attracted to celebrities. Solomon was surely one in his day. Even the Queen of Sheba was eager to see him in person and to hear his words of wisdom. She was overwhelmed not only by Solomon himself but by the luxurious trappings of his royal court and the efficiency of his organisation. It was obvious that daily life in Solomon's court was happy and rewarding.

The superstars of our own day attract a lot of interest. Fans will travel miles to see their favourite singer or support their football team. They will even camp out overnight in order to buy tickets if necessary.

Jesus was a celebrity, too, because His teaching was new and challenging, and He had the power to cure sick people. As His reputation spread crowds would flock to see Him. Many, no doubt, went out of curiosity, but some became loyal followers and found, like Solomon's servants, that life in His company could be very happy and rewarding.

Modern fans can be very fickle. The stars of today can lose their popularity and in a short time they are forgotten. Probably the authorities in Jesus' time hoped that He too would be quickly forgotten after His death. That did not happen because Jesus is far greater than any worldly celebrity. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, His words eternal. He Himself said, "Though Heaven and Earth pass away, My words will never pass away." The Queen of Sheba travelled to listen to the wise words of Solomon but Jesus is the source of all wisdom: we can meet Him every day at Mass and listen to His words of wisdom in the Scriptures. Do we show the same enthusiasm for Jesus as fans do for their celebrities? If Jesus is the most important person in our lives should we not be trying to spend as much time as we can with Him?

Lord Jesus, our admiration for the stars of popular culture may wane, but You call us to unending loyalty with the promise of eternal life. Help us not to be a disappointment to You because we know that You will never disappoint us.

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