What Defiles or Purifies

Mark 7: 14-23
1 Kgs 10:1-10 / Ps 37

Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make one 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.

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

“Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile” (Mark.7:15). We can cultivate goodness in our hearts or evil. The choice is always ours. If we’re always too concerned about our own welfare, our own comforts, desires and benefits, then we are prone to become a breeding ground for sin. But if we turn our attention to God and His goodness, appreciate His creation, feel gratitude for His blessings, and willingly aspire to show Him our love and appreciation by serving Him and others who need our help, then we have nothing to fear that any evil may pollute our hearts. God will give us all the graces necessary for us to accomplish His good will in our lives.

Yet, everything that comes from within is a product of what we feed our minds and hearts. For instance, if we are fond of watching lewd video shows or reading pornographic materials, then we are prone to commit the sin of sexual immorality. If we are too preoccupied with acquiring wealth by all means to maintain our social status, then we are feeding our ego with worldly attachments, and may become greedy and arrogant, and may even resort to deceit to “keep up with the Joneses.”

The best way to cultivate goodness and purity in our life is to receive our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist of the Mass as often as possible. Another is to feed our spirit with the Word of God in Holy Scriptures. We must also refrain from worldly pursuits, especially the pleasures of the flesh. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:6-8) Receiving the Body of Christ, as well as meditating on the Bible every day nourishes and strengthens our soul, and makes us receptive to the prodding of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we have nothing to fear in what we eat, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer” (1Tim.4:4-5). “Bless us, O Lord and the gifts that we receive from Thy bounty, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

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

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