Lectio: Mark 7:14-23
Meditatio: “. . . from the human heart . . . “
Jesus’ contemporaries highly valued external practices of purification, especially regarding clean and unclean foods. But Jesus tells his disciples that 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 within the space of a few verses.
A list of sins and vices is given, showing the various ways that our hearts can bring forth evil. 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 human dignity.
This process has been called “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 Saint Paul wrote to the Romans: ” . . . be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
Lord Jesus, 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.