Defilement Comes From Within


Mk.7:14-23
1Kgs 10:1-10 / Psa 37

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.

[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 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 a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts come evil and impure thoughts, lust, covetousness, anger, greed, malice, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (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 revealed how superficial their faith was in their external ceremonies.

We can cultivate either goodness in our hearts or ill according to our will. The choice is always ours. Through a cousin I met Ms. 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 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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