Scripture Lesson: Mark 7:14-23
Meditation: “. . . from his heart. . . .”
Today’s brief Gospel reading is part of a larger discussion about ritual purity. Jesus’ contemporaries highly valued external practices of purification, especially concerning clean and unclean foods.
After the discussion, when Jesus is at home, he educates his disciples by further explaining what he means. He proposes an earthy example that they can easily understand. What goes into a person is not what defiles, because it travels through the digestive system and is eliminated. Instead, Jesus stresses, what truly defiles is that which comes out of the human heart. This point is so vital that the Gospel writer repeats it withing the space of a few verses.
A list of sins and vices is given, showing the various ways that our hearts can bring evil forth. Opposed to these are the virtues, which represent the kind of moral purification pleasing to God. The fruit of love for God and for others is of greater value than showy, external deeds.
The sins listed in this passage start with “evil thoughts,” and continue with vices that are bred in the mind. This seems to indicate that our thoughts control the desires of our hearts. Mental discipline can promote what is true, good, beautiful, and worthy of our human dignity.
A religious founder of the twentieth century, James Alberione, called this process “the sanctification of the mind.” It consists of forming the mind in healthy ways so that it can grow naturally and spiritually. The hoped-for result is to reach what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: “. . . be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (12:2).
Jesus, my Master, sanctify my mind and heart. Aware of the influence that the mind exerts on my heart, help me to be attentive to the thoughts I consider, and discerning about the amount of limitless information and entertainment I choose to take in. I desire to replace unworthy thoughts with those that are pleasing to you.
Turn my mind and heart toward you, Lord.
Adapted from “Ordinary Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections,” (C) 2011, Daughters of St. Paul