Evil or Good from Within

Mark 7: 14-23
Gen 2:4b-9,15-17 / Psa 104

Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean? Since it enters not the heart but the stomach and is finally passed out.
(Mark 7:18-19)

Sow good seeds in our words and deeds,
Let no evil come from within;
We cannot harvest grain from weeds,
Nor cultivate goodwill with sin.

Again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'” After He had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples asked Him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” He asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”) He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'” (Mark 7: 14-23)

Reflection

Those rituals of purification that the Pharisees wanted to perpetuate were no longer relevant in the new age of love that Jesus wanted His disciples to follow. The Pharisees only showed how superficial their faith was in their external show of piety.

We can cultivate either goodness in our hearts or ill will towards others according to our attitude. The choice is ours to make. A cousin introduced me to Ms. M, a wealthy and kindly old lady who established a foundation for poverty alleviation projects, livelihood for the poor through vocational and technical skills training, and even a center for street children. She never married, and at the age of 85, lived alone with her maid. In the twilight of her life, with a sizeable income from the rental of several commercial buildings, she had decided to put up this foundation to be her legacy for the poor. I learned that she had sisters, and wondered why they were not included in her foundation. Sadly, my cousin related, she had estranged herself from them, and their deep-seated enmity was irreconcilable. How sad indeed for Ms. M. She refused to see that all her external good works for the poor would not cleanse the stain of bitterness in her heart. All she needed to do was to forgive and be reconciled with her sisters, and this would have been the most important accomplishment in her life.

Let the words of St. Paul be our guide: “Do not conform yourself to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles repeated the same message to the Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (Phil.4:8)

Lord, fill me with your Spirit and make my heart like yours. Strengthen my will that I may I choose to love what is good and pure, and to hate what is evil. Amen.

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