Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 2:4b-9.15-17; Mark 7:14-23)
Today’s first reading presents the mysterious “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It stands in the middle of the garden – at the center of human existence. It is unlike any of the other trees in that God has specifically warned not to eat its fruit. Eating it will cause death.
“Knowledge” here is more than intellectual knowing. Rather knowledge is the often painful process of learning by experience. It is our experience of fire or of rejection. The Lord wants to spare Adam this bitter process. Because He has given Adam plenty to live on, He tells Adam not to eat of the fruit. Of course, Adam with the help of his soon to be created partner will reject this good advice. They will freely choose to disobey God’s command in pursuit of experiential knowledge. Their action will indeed introduce death into creation.
Humans have developed beyond Adam’s primitive state. We have searched for knowledge in a trillion ways. The knowledge has brought us some good like machines to relieve us of back-breaking labor. It has also brought us anxiety and war. There are still prohibitions established by God both in nature and revelation for our welfare. We are not to kill. We are not to exploit the poor and the weak. When we violate these commands, we can expect a fate more gruesome than death.