Sin From Within Makes Us Unclean

Mark 7: 14-23
Gen 2: 4b-9,15-17 / Ps 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)

Externals do not make us clean
If hearts are still not reconciled;
The goodness must come from within,
If we want to remain undefiled.

Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 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 person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:14-23)

Reflection

The Pharisees and teachers of the Judaic law wanted to perpetuate ancient rituals that were practiced by their ancestors to preserve their faith and remain undefiled when they settled the Gentile nations. But these rituals of purification, (like washing the hands before eating) from the age of the law were no longer relevant in the new age of love that Jesus wanted His disciples to follow. In their criticisms, the Pharisees only revealed how superficial their faith was in their external forms of worship.

We can cultivate either goodness in our hearts or ill according to our will. The choice is always ours. Through a cousin I met Madame M, a very 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 88, 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 present in the affair. Sadly, my cousin related, she had been estranged from them, and their deep-seated enmity was irreconcilable. How sad indeed for Mrs. 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 significant accomplishment for the sake of her soul.

Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles gave this beautiful 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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