“Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” ~ Mark 7:15
In today’s Gospel (Mark 7:14-23), Jesus explains that sinful behavior germinates and subsequently flows from within our hearts, the deepest center of who we are, that place from which our thoughts and actions arise. In many ways, this ran contrary to the traditional Jewish teachings, for they were steeped in meticulous rituals such as those pertaining to washing and cleanliness as we saw in yesterday’s Gospel (Mark 7:1-13) for instance.
Even today, the fitness and wellness industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise with so much emphasis placed on diet and nutrition. Atkins, keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan.....it’s virtually impossible to keep up with all of them. And although the spiritual gifts of wisdom and self-control tell us that chain smoking cigarettes and subsisting on a diet of pork chops, fried chicken and oreo ice cream can be detrimental to one’s health, partaking of these bad habits, although not advised, will bring only physical harm to a person. As the old expression goes, you’ve gotta die of something.
Jesus in today’s teaching is concerned with matters of the heart, those perilous things that lead to spiritual destruction and thus carry with them eternal consequences. ”What comes out of the man, that is what defiles him” Jesus says, going on to explain that “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 ~ quite the nefarious laundry list I might add ~ come from within and they defile the soul.
These poisonous acts, all of which are an abomination to God, are unfortunately the byproduct of original sin. This is the stark reality. This is our stark reality. As Bishop Baron says in his daily morning reflection “There is something terribly black in the human heart. We are made in the image and likeness of God, but that image can be so distorted by sin as to be barely recognizable. Our faith clearly teaches the awful truth of the fall, and we see the evidence of it in the mystery of sin, which is not to be ignored, not to be trifled with, not to be rationalized away. We are all capable of dark and evil acts. I’m not okay and neither are you.”
This brutally honest assessment should compel each and every one of us to immediately crave and pursue a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus. For not only is Jesus merciful and forgiving, by virtue of his life and his teachings he can show us the path that leads to redemption and true freedom, not the “freedom” promised by the secular world and those who pull its strings.
Intercessory Prayer to those saints who struggled with the same things you do, quiet time in Adoration whereby one can conduct a thorough examination of conscience, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a deeper more meaningful relationship with Our Blessed Mother, greater familiarity with key Gospel teachings such as today’s. These are but a few of the weapons we take into battle with us, for it is a battle; make no mistake.
I’d like to close with a favorite prayer of. One, one that thankfully appears to be re-emerging in its popularity and relevance. And just in time I might add.
“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” ~ Amen.