Gospel Reflection Mark 7:14-23
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 even 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 the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
This Gospel starts with a simple and straight forward proclamation from Jesus: ‘Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come from within are what defile.’ This must be the earliest known interpretation of the childhood saying, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ I’m not sure how many of you grew up on the playground yelling that phrase at your sibling as they insulted you, but I sure did! It is this idea that nothing from the outside can change your person, or your value, and you should never let it. The only things that can bring a person down, or defile them, come from your own inner thoughts and heart. If you know you are valuable, if you know you are beautiful, if you know you are worthy, nothing can change that no matter how many others may try. Take the time to purify your heart and mind, and you will be as close to God as is possible on this Earth.
The second part of this Gospel shows us how timely and infinite the teachings of Christ are. Even back 2000 years ago, the ones closest to Jesus were questioning this parable. How many of us today forget this lesson when we are cut off in the car, in an argument with our neighbors, disagreeing with our boss, or talking to our mother-in-laws! Jesus made it clear to his Disciples then, and continues to make it clear to us now, that all of our anger, disappointment and evil thoughts come from our own self, it comes from within! This Gospel was an important reminder to me, as is the hope that it is a reminder for all, that I can be better if I just take the time with God to work on me. Holy Spirit, fill the HEARTS of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.