The Gospel according to Mark (7:14-23)
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of the man that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Opening Prayer: O God, we ask that you keep our family safe with unfailing care, that relying solely on the hope of your heavenly grace, they may be defended always by your protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Encountering Christ: Despite all of the miracles, and acts of healing and compassion, what specifically bothers the Pharisees and scribes that have come from Jerusalem is that some of Jesus’ disciples do not observe ritual purity, a concept that has to be explained. They are missing the point of the matter, that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles, but what come out of the soul through the mouth.
God never forces his messages upon us nor does he demand our attention. He desires our free and open response, for only with that can he work in our lives with generosity and love. He turned to the crowds and to his followers, asking them to listen closely. Here, now, in this moment of prayer, Jesus is also inviting us to listen closely to his words in Scripture and also to his words in the silence of our hearts, the circumstances of our lives, and even the suffering we experience today. Are we listening?
Jesus seeks to nourish us as a human race we have abused the gifts that God created for us in the first place. Jesus wanted to restore the image of God’s goodness and providence. From the moment of creation, God gave us everything to enjoy as a gift and to care for as its stewards. Jesus wants us to enjoy all that God has provided for us, down to the food we eat, so that we can be nourished and not scrupulous. How easy it is to sometimes put certain things into categories of “good” or “bad” based on subjective opinions. This Gospel is an invitation to see all of creation with God’s eyes and to use his gifts wisely.
The Heart of the Matter: Jesus taught us to align our hearts with God’s commandments and not to cling to human traditions. Jesus came to establish his kingdom, not with armies or castles, but through grace and conversion of the human heart, clearly the point of this passage. Unfortunately, recent events in our country, our state and even in our communities have shown the ugly side of the human spirit.
God sees this evil in our actions–unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, stupidity–and he passionately desires to enter and possess each person’s heart, so that he can transform it into a vessel of his love and light. Yet, he cannot enter without our consent. He stands outside our inner door and knocks softly, waiting for us to open the door and allow him in.
Closing Prayer: Jesus, I want to sit at your feet and allow you to teach me today about what is most important to you. You are interested in entering my heart— purifying it and transforming it for your glory. Jesus, please enter my heart now. Show me what is really there and make it like yours in all things.
Action of the Day: Today for many of us, the importance of community has become ever more evident as we have, not by choice, been forced to ‘social distance’ our selves from each other. God created us, this human race to live, share and to support each other. We must utilize the power of our prayers for each other to strengthen our resolve and to detour evil in our society.