A reading from the gospel according to Mark 7:14-23:
14 Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.
15 Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”
17 When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable.
18 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,
19 since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
20 “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
21 From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
23 All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Reflection: From within
We may have heard of the saying “We are what we eat.” This is true only in terms of healthy living. Yet in the gospel reading above, Jesus tells us to be careful of what comes out from within, not what goes inside us. Previously, He scolded the religious leaders for being too meticulous about externality such as washing of hands before eating. Now He continues to teach us that food intake which is also external does not make us sinful. It is what comes from within us that make us so.
The heart as mentioned by Jesus includes our conscience, thoughts, moods, and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings become our word and actions which then become our choices, attitudes and habit. If our heart is true and pure, it will reveal itself outwardly in our speech and behavior. On the other hand, our evil thoughts, as Jesus explained, can readily turn into the twelve evil acts namely: unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly.
It is necessary to do introspection regularly. Although we were made in the image and likeness of God, we are prone to harbor evil thoughts and the tendency to rebel. So what is in your heart? Do you have a heart of stone or a heart that is willing to accept the presence of God? With the help of the Holy Spirit, let us pray like the Psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Because we desire to be pure and holy, let us also pray like King David in Psalm 51 thus, “Create in me a clean heart, o God and renew a right spirit within me”.