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From: Genesis 1:20-2:4a

The Creation Account (Continued)

[20] And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let
birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” [21] So God crea-
ted the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the
waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its
kind. And God saw that it was good. [22] And God blessed them, saying, “Be
fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the
earth.” [23] And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

[24] And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their
kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds”
And it was so. [25] And God made the beasts of the earth according to their
kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon
the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let
them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and
over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps
upon the earth.” [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God
he created him; male and female he created them. [28] And God blessed them,
and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it;
and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over
every living thing that moves upon the earth.” [29] And God said, “Behold, I have
given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and
every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. [30] And to every
beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on
the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for
food.” And it was so. [31] And God saw everything that he had made, and be-
hold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth

[2:1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. [2]
And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested
on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. [3] So God blessed the
seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which
he had done in creation. [4a] These are the generations of the heavens and the
earth when they were created.


1:26. The sacred text emphasizes the special significance of this moment: God
seems to stop to reflect and plan every detail of his next creation—man. Ancient
Jewish interpretation (followed also by some Christian writers) saw the use of
the plural “Let us make...” as meaning that God deliberated with his heavenly
court, that is, with the angels (implying that God had created them at the very
start, when he “created the heavens and the earth”). But the use of the plural
should rather be taken as reflecting the greatness and power of God. A consi-
derable part of Christian tradition has seen the “Let us make” as reflecting the
Holy Trinity, for New Testament revelation has made the Christian reader more
aware of the unfathomable greatness of the divine mystery.

“Man” here has a collective meaning: every human being, by his or her very na-
ture, is in the image and likeness of God. The human being is intelligible not by
reference to other created beings in the universe but by reference to God. The
likeness between God and man is not a physical one, for God has no body; it
is a spiritual likeness, lying in the human being’s capacity for interiority. The Se-
cond Vatican Council teaches that man is not deceived when he regards himself
as superior to bodily things and as more than just a speck of nature or a name-
less unit in the city of man. For by his power to know himself in the depths of his
being he rises above the whole universe of mere objects. When he is drawn to
think about his real self, he turns to those deep recesses of his being where God
who probes the heart (1 Kings 16:7; Jer 17:10) awaits him, and where he himself
decides his own destiny in the sight of God. So when he recognizes in himself a
spiritual and immortal soul, he is not being led astray by false imaginings that
are due to merely physical or social causes. On the contrary, he grasps what is
profoundly true in this matter” (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 14).

The fact that God creates man in own image and likeness “means not only ratio-
nality and freedom as constitutive properties of human nature, but also from the
very beginning, the capacity of having a “personal relationship” with God as ‘I’
and ‘you’ and therefore the capacity “of having a covenant”, which will take place
in God’s salvific communication with man” (John Paul II, “Dominum Et Vivifican-
tem”, 34). In the light of this communication, brought about in all its fullness by
Jesus Christ, the Fathers the Church read the words “image and likeness” as
meaning, on the one hand man’s spiritual condition, and, on the other, his sha-
ring in the divine nature through sanctifying grace. Even after the fall, man is still
in the “image” of God; through sin, however, he lost his “likeness” but this was
restored through Christ’s redemption.

It is part of God’s design that human beings should have dominion over other crea-
ted things (represented here by the animals). This dominion makes man God’s re-
presentative (everything really belongs to God) in the created world. Therefore, al-
though man is going to be the lord of creation, he needs to recognize that God a-
lone is the Creator; man has to respect and look after creation; he is responsible
for it.

These words of Scripture show that “man is the only creature that God has loved
for itself alone, because all others were created to be at the service of man. Here
we can see, too, the basic equality of all human beings. For the Church, this e-
quality, which has its roots in man’s very being, takes on the very special dimen-
sion of brotherhood through the Incarnation of the Son of God. [...] Therefore, dis-
crimination of any type [...] is absolutely unacceptable” (John Paul II, Address, 7
July 1984).

1:27. The creation of man marks the completion of God’s plan. In presenting this
final act of creation, the sacred writer offers us a summary of the things that go
to make up the human being. As well as repeating that God created man in his
image and likeness, he tells us that God created them man and woman, that is
to say, corporeal beings, endowed with sexuality, and designed to live in society.
“Being in the image of God, the human individual possesses the dignity of a per-
son, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge,
of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with
other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator to offer
him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead”
(”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 357).

“The fact that man ‘created as man and woman’ is the image of God means not
only that each of them individually is like God, as a rational and free being. It al-
so means that man and woman, created as a ‘unity of the two’ in their common
humanity, are called to live in a communion of love, and in this way to mirror in
the world the communion of love that is in God, through which the Three Per-
sons love each other in the intimate mystery of the one divine life. This ‘unity of
the two’, which is a sign of interpersonal communion, “shows that the creation
of man” is also marked by a certain likeness to the divine communion (”commu-
nio”) This likeness is a quality of the personal being of both man and woman,
and is also a call and a task” (John Paul II, “Mulieris Dignitatem”, 7).

The fact that the Bible and everyday language speak of God as masculine is a
result of cultural influences and the great care taken in the Bible to avoid any
hint of polytheism (which could arise if the godhead were described as feminine,
opening the way to generations of gods, as in other religions). God transcends
the body and sexuality; therefore, both man (masc.) and woman (fem.) equally
reflect his image and likeness. In these words of Genesis, for the very first time
in history, the fundamental equality in dignity of man and woman is proclaimed
— in marked contrast with the low esteem in which women were held in the an-
cient world.

According to the traditional Jewish and Christian interpretation, this verse is allu-
ding to marriage, as if God had already created the first man and the first woman
as a married couple — forming that human community which is the basis of every
society. In the second Genesis account of the creation of man and woman (cf.
2:18-24), this will emerge even more clearly.

1:28. God has already created animals, endowing them with fruitfulness (v. 22).
He now addresses these two human beings personally: “he said to them...”;
this indicates that the reproductive power of human beings (and therefore their
sexuality) are values for which they must assume responsibility before God, as
a way of co-operating in God’s plans. Thus, God, “wishing to associate them in
a special way with his own creative work, blessed man and woman with the
words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen 1:28). Without intending to underestimate
the other ends of marriage, it must be said that true married love and the whole
structure of family life which results from it is directed to disposing the spouses
to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them
will increase and enrich his family from day to day” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et
Spes”, 50).

God also commands man to make the earth serve him. Here divine Revelation
is teaching us that human work is regarded as a way by which man operates in
the plan God had when he created the world: “By the work of his hands and with
the aid of technical means man tills the earth to bring fruit and to make it a dwel-
ling place for all mankind; he also consciously plays his part in the life of social
groups; in so doing he is realizing the design, which God revealed at the begin-
ning of time, to subdue the earth and perfect the work of creation, and at the
same time he is improving his own person” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 57).

From this divine disposition we see the importance a person’s work has in his
or her personal life: “Your human vocation is a part—and an important part — of
your divine vocation. That reason why you must strive for holiness, giving a par-
ticular character to your human personality, a style to your life; contributing at
the same time to the sanctification of others, your fellow men; sanctifying your
work and your environment: the profession or job that fills day, your home and
family and the country where you were born and which you love [...]. Work, all
work, bears witness to the dignity of man, to his dominion over creation. It is an
opportunity to develop one’s personality. It is a bond of union with others, the
way to support one’s family, a means of aiding the improvement of the society
in which we live and in the progress of all mankind” (”Christ Is Passing By”,

Man is charged by God with mastery over the earth; but he may not do whatever
he likes with it or act despotically: he should respect the universe as being the
work of the Creator. In this regard, Wisdom 9:3 says: “O God, [...] who hast
formed man, to have dominion over the creatures thou hast made, and rule the
world in holiness and righteousness, and pronounce judgment in uprightness of
soul.” “This holds good also for our daily work. When men and women provide
for themselves and their families in such a way as to be of service to the commu-
nity as well, they can rightly look upon their work as a prolongation of the work
of the creator, a service to their fellow men, and their personal contribution to the
fulfillment in history of the divine plan” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 34).

1:31. These words bring to an end this first description of the work of Creation. It
is as if God, after making man, stood back to see what he had done and was very
pleased with the result. Whereas the wording previously used was “And God saw
that it was good,” now we are told that it was “very good”. In this way, the good-
ness of the created world is being stressed, indicating that “this natural goodness
of theirs receives an added dignity from their relation with the human person, for
whose use they have been created” (Vatican II, “Apostolicam Actuositatem”, 7).
From this it follows that the human person and his/her dignity must be valued
above all other created things, and all human endeavor should be geared to foster
and defend these values.

2:1-3. From this point onwards, God will almost never intervene in creation direct-
ly. Now it is up to man to act in the created world through the work he does.

God’s “resting” sets an example for man. By resting, we are acknowledging that
creation in the last analysis depends on and belongs to God, and that God is
watching over it. Here rest is an example set by the Creator; we shall later find it
as one of the Ten Commandments (cf. Ex 20:8-18; Deut 5:42-14). “The institution
of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their
familial, cultural, social and religious lives” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”,
2184; cf. also John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, “Dies Domini”, 31 May 1998).

Apropos of the sabbath, unlike the other days there is no mention of there being
evening and morning. It is as if that rhythm of time were being broken by the sab-
bath — prefiguring the situation in which man, once he has accomplished his mis-
sion of mastering the earth, will enjoy an unending rest, at an eternal feast in
God’s presence (cf. Heb 4:1-10). In the language of the Bible “feast” or “festival”
means three things—a) obligatory rest from everyday work; b) recognition of God
as Lord of creation, and joyful contemplation of the created world; c) a foretaste
of the enduring rest and joy that will be man’s after he leaves this world.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 02/11/2013 10:55:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Mark 7:1-13

The Tradition of the Elders

[1] Now when the Pharisees gathered together to Him (Jesus), with some of the
scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, [2] they saw that some of His disciples
ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. [3] (For the Pharisees, and all the
Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the el-
ders; [4] and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they
purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the
washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) [5] And the Pharisees and the
scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not live according to the tradition of
the elders, but eat with hands defiled?” [6] And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah
prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me; [7] in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doc-
trines the precepts of men.’ [8] You leave the commandment of God, and hold
fast the tradition of men.

[9] And He said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of
God, in order to keep your tradition! [10] For Moses said, “Honor your father and
your mother’; and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’; [11]
but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained
from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)—[12] then you no longer permit him to
do anything for his father or mother, [13] thus making void the word of God
through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do.”


1-2. Hands were washed not for reasons of hygiene or good manners but be-
cause the custom had religious significance: it was a rite of purification. In Exo-
dus 30:17ff the Law of God laid down how priests should wash before offering sa-
crifice. Jewish tradition had extended this to all Jews before every meal, in an ef-
fort to give meals a religious significance, which was reflected in the blessings
which marked the start of meals. Ritual purification was a symbol of the moral
purity a person should have when approaching God (Psalm 24:3ff; 51:4 and 9);
but the Pharisees had focused on the mere external rite. Therefore Jesus re-
stores the genuine meaning of these precepts of the Law, whose purpose is to
teach the right way to render homage to God (cf. John 4:24).

3-5. We can see clearly from this text that very many of those to whom St.
Mark’s Gospel was first addressed were Christians who had been pagans and
were unfamiliar with Jewish customs. The Evangelist explains these customs
in some detail, to help them realize the significance of the events and teachings
reported in the Gospel story.

Similarly, Sacred Scripture needs to be preached and taught in a way which
puts it within reach of its hearers. This is why Vatican II teaches that “it is for the
bishops suitable to instruct the faithful [...] by giving them translations of the sa-
cred texts which are equipped with necessary and really adequate explanations.
Thus the children of the Church can familiarize themselves safely and profitably
with the Sacred Scriptures, and become steeped in their spirit” (”Dei Verbum”,

11-13. For an explanation of this text cf. note on Mt. 15:5-6. Jesus Christ, who
is the authentic interpreter of the Law, because as God He is its author, explains
the scope of the fourth commandment and points out the mistakes made by the
Jewish casuistry. There were many other occasions when He corrected mista-
ken interpretations offered by the Jewish teachers: for example, when He recalls
that phrase of the Old Testament, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy,
and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6, 1 Samuel 15:22; Sirach 35:4) in Matthew 9:13.

[The note on Matthew 15:5-6 states:

5-6. Over the years teachers of the Law (scribes) and priests of the temple had
distorted the true meaning of the fourth commandment. In Jesus’ time, they were
saying that people who contributed to the temple in cash or in kind were absolved
from supporting their parents: it would be sacrilegious for parents to lay claim to
this “corban” (offerings for the altar). People educated in this kind of thinking felt
that they were keeping the fourth commandment — in fact, fulfilling it in the best
way possible — and they were praised for their piety by the religious leaders of
the nation. But what in fact it meant was that, under the cloak of piety, they were
leaving elderly parents to fend for themselves. Jesus, who is Messiah and God, is
the one who can correctly interpret the Law. Here He explains the proper scope
of the fourth commandment, exposing the error of Jewish practice at the time. For
Christians, therefore, the fourth commandment includes affectionate help of pa-
rents if they are old or needy, even if one has other family, social or religious obli-
gations to attend to. Children should check regularly on whether they are looking
after their parents properly.]

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 02/11/2013 10:56:43 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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