First reading 1 Kings 10:1-10

The Queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon

The fame of Solomon having reached the queen of Sheba, she came to test him with difficult questions. She brought immense riches to Jerusalem with her, camels laden with spices, great quantities of gold, and precious stones. On coming to Solomon, she opened her mind freely to him; and Solomon had an answer for all her questions, not one of them was too obscure for the king to expound. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he had built, the food at his table, the accommodation for his officials, the organisation of his staff and the way they were dressed, his cup-bearers, and the holocausts he offered in the Temple of the Lord, it left her breathless, and she said to the king, ‘What I heard in my own country about you and your wisdom was true, then! Until I came and saw it with my own eyes I could not believe what they told me, but clearly they told me less than half: for wisdom and prosperity you surpass the report I heard. How happy your wives are! How happy are these servants of yours who wait on you always and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God who has granted you his favour, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because of the Lord’s everlasting love for Israel, he has made you king to deal out law and justice.’ And she presented the king with a hundred and twenty talents of gold and great quantities of spices and precious stones; no such wealth of spices ever came again as those given to King Solomon by the queen of Sheba.
 

Responsorial Psalm 36(37):5-6,30-31,39-40

The just man’s mouth utters wisdom.
 
Commit your life to the Lord,
  trust in him and he will act,
so that your justice breaks forth like the light,
  your cause like the noon-day sun.
 
The just man’s mouth utters wisdom
  and his lips speak what is right;
the law of his God is in his heart,
  his steps shall be saved from stumbling.
 
The salvation of the just comes from the Lord,
  their stronghold in time of distress.
The Lord helps them and delivers them
  and saves them: for their refuge is in him.
 

Gospel Mark 7:14-23

It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean

Jesus called the people to him and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’
  When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’
 
_________________________
 

It is the evil things that come from within that make a person unclean

In the previous verses of the same chapter, Jesus told the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law how they emphasised the minor man-made laws and forgot the essential Law of God, which is to love God and neighbour. In this text, He is pointing out to the crowds and to us that we need to pay more attention to what is in our minds and hearts instead of being so concerned with external practices and rituals. For example, if someone hurts us and we nurture resentment, the unforgiveness towards the person will make us move away from receiving God’s merciful love. As Jesus Himself taught us in The Our Father: “…Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Let us follow the example of our Master by giving more importance to His New Commandment of loving God and loving one another than to the external man-made rules.
 
Reflective question:
Do I allow the mercy of God to change any bad intentions that I may have?
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year B” by Sr Maria Jose FMVD.