Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, February 10
Who We Really Are as a People of God Results from What Is Really within Us at the Core of Our Very Being.
We read in today’s Gospel our Lord teaching the crowds as well as the Pharisees and scribes who were standing nearby, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”
Many years ago, I believe it was in the 1980’s, my late wife and I knew this couple, about the same age as we were. The husband had a good job working for a reputable company. And his wife was a “stay-at-home mom” – a loving mother and a good housewife.
They lived in a modest home and always enjoyed doing things together with their teenage son as a family. If one were to view this family from the outside, not really knowing them personally, one might say that they were the ideal family you would find on one of the early TV shows in the 50’s and 60’s, such as “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best.”
But appearances can oftentimes be very deceiving. The reality was far different than one would perceive by just looking at them.
Yes, they loved each other. Yes, they enjoyed spending quality time together. But, in reality, there’s was a life of complete selfishness. Materialism and secularistic pleasures were their gods. And they would profess their belief that one should live each day to the fullest regarding personal desires and pleasures.
And they passed this way of thinking and behavior onto their teenage son – which, unfortunately, contributed in a very negative way to his own moral development, during a time in any teenager’s life which can oftentimes become fraught with all sorts of confusing thoughts and feelings.
Sadly, as a consequence of the parents’ beliefs and lifestyle, their son began to accept and revel in the idea that personal gratification in any form was his ultimate goal – his only happiness. He embraced the philosophy that, if his parents believed in it, then it must be okay.
But Jesus is reminding us today that what we really become, who we really are as a people of God, results from what wells up from within our hearts, what is really within us at the core of our very being.
Our Lord was first responding to a particular point regarding the dietary laws and ritual defilement of His time for Judaism. But Jesus takes these traditions of ritual purification and places them in context of the Kingdom of God, where these arbitrary rules have no real meaning.
And He declares that moral defilement is the only cause of uncleanness – that it was not about the foods that a person eats that would make one impure, rather the notions and inclinations which emanate from within one’s heart.
“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder…” – and all the other evils He lists which come from within which defile us. On the contrary, that which come from the heart and which is good and holy makes us righteous and pleasing in the sight of God.
The choices which we make in life that harm our relationship with God can be akin to our disobeying God’s command not to eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that we hear about in our First Reading today.
We are presented with a second account of Creation, in that man was formed “…out of the clay of the ground.” This additional story of Creation has its own unique characteristics, in that it introduces us to the concept of sin and death in the form of partaking from that which God has forbidden.
God, as the Giver of all that is good, created a Garden of great beauty, in which an abundance was provided for the man to enjoy. But, as we shall see as we continue reading from the Book of Genesis, man is not satisfied with what is good and wholesome and healthy for body and soul.
Instead, due to the weakness which is inherent in our human nature, what is referred to as our concupiscence or propensity for sin, man tends to be drawn towards that which is forbidden and unhealthy, and he begins to fall prey to the seductions which enslave him – sin!
Ultimately, we become slaves to the gods which weaken us, whether we be bound by the chains of pride, greed, gluttony, power, lust. There are so many, and our Lords warns us today of the many evils which defile us from the inside of our hearts.
The challenge for you and me today is that we cannot walk through this life without help. And, the help which is ours for the asking is God’s Divine Mercy in the midst of all the seductions and the evils which constantly assault our senses. God offers to both you and me the strengthening and spiritual nourishment we find through prayer, Word and Sacrament.
Through a life of personal prayer, we invite God into our lives, asking Him to give us His Spirit in a much greater and a more powerful way, so as to defend us from the assaults by Satan and his minions of demonic spirits.
Through Word, we are reminded of God’s Commandments which are meant to help us live in a right relationship with God and with each other; we are reminded of the graces which are ours if we embrace the Beatitudes as a way of life in all that we think, in all that we say and do.
Lastly, through Sacrament, in which we are nourished and fed with the glorified Christ Himself – for it is the Eucharist which becomes the source and summit of our life of faith as we journey through life. It is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Christ, received with humility and with a faithful and contrite heart, in which we are strengthened against the lies with which the prince of this world wishes to deceive us.
It is the Presence of Christ within us, through prayer, Word and Sacrament, which molds us and guides us, enabling you and me, in the very depths of our being, at the very core of who we are as a people of God, to become all that He asks us to be, so that we may remain in a holy, a loving and intimate relationship with our God – so that sin may no longer have power over us, so that the shackles of enslavement may remain forever unlocked.
The choice between good and evil, between sanctity and sin always has been and always will be ultimately ours. With the help of God’s grace, may we always make the right choice! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “The LORD God gave man this order: ‘You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17)
- “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mark 7:15)
- “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7:21-23)
- “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
- “Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as [Jesus] is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning.” (1 John 3:7-8a)
- “Turn from evil and do good, that you may inhabit the land forever. For the LORD loves justice and does not abandon the faithful.” (Psalm 37:27-28a)
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Prayer for the Day
“Have mercy on me, O God, in your kindness;
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
“My offenses, truly I know them;
My sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.
“From my sins turn away your face,
and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
“Do not cast me out from your presence,
nor deprive me of your Holy Spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me.
“O Lord, open my lips,The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance (Psalm 51:1-4a, 9-12, 15)
and my mouth shall declare your praise.”