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(Part 14)


February 8, 2012
Today’s gospel: Mark 7:14-23

We live in an impure world. Sexual licentiousness and moral degradation are the norm. We cannot avoid its pervasiveness, being all around us--TV shows, movies, magazines, billboards, Internet. Be that as it may, we are in the world but are not of it. We cannot, for now, change what is around us, but what we strive to do is to keep it from becoming a part of us and determining how we live our lives.

This is important, because we might make the influence of the world around us as our excuse for wrongdoing. Or we might give up on our struggle for purity because we cannot escape the impurity around. So Jesus says, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mk 7:15).

While the world entices, and the evil one tempts, “everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile” (Mk 7:18b), unless we allow it. Now that is the problem. We face an enemy within, and that is our own flesh. “All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mk 7:23). If we allow the impurity from outside to settle in our minds and hearts, then this manifests itself in impure conduct. “But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles.” (Mk 7:20).

What are these? Jesus says, “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.” (Mk 7:21-22). Well, as renewed persons, we are not guilty of those, are we?

Not so fast! Consider that such evil comes from the heart, from within, and then manifests itself in physical wrongdoing. So even if we do not ultimately act in an impure way, if we think in an impure way, then we are defiled, we have sinned, evil has come from within. Some of the greatest sinners might actually be those who act piously (see Mt 23:27-28). Further, we might think we have not committed any of the listed sins, but we could be defiled nonetheless.

Consider the following.

  • Evil thoughts. Do you think ill of others? Do you plot how to win through underhanded means (whether in business, sports, or spiritual work)?
  • Unchastity. Do you entertain impure thoughts? Do you wear provocative clothing?
  • Theft. Have you robbed someone of his good name or reputation? Do you rob God by not giving a tithe? (See Mal 3:8). Do you deprive others of what God intends for them by taking more than your share of the world’s goods? (See Mk 10:23).
  • Murder. Are you guilty of character assassination, including insulting epithets? (See Mt 5:21-22).
  • Adultery. Have you looked at a woman with lust? (See Mt 5:28).
  • Greed. Do you store up treasures on earth? (See Mt 6:19-21).
  • Malice. Do you wish bad things or misfortune to happen to another, perhaps someone you consider your enemy? Do you wish for failure on the part of your “rivals,” even other spiritual groups?
  • Deceit. Do you dish out disinformation, misinformation or half-truths?
  • Licentiousness. Do you engage in wanton living? In overindulgence? Do you indulge your passions?
  • Envy. Do you covet what others have?
  • Blasphemy. Have you committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by attributing to Satan what is the very work of God? (See Mk 3:28-29).
  • Arrogance. Do you take sinful pride in your accomplishments, including spiritual ones? Do you love the honor accorded by men? (See Mt 23:6-7).
  • Folly. Do you speak careless words? (See Mt 12:36-37). Is there unforgiveness in your heart? (See Mt 6:15). Do you neglect your responsibilities?

To live pure is to avoid defilement. We do not control that things out in the world that defile. We do control, by the grace of God and the strength of His Spirit, what comes from within. Let us keep our hearts clean and our thoughts untainted, so that we can truly live pure.

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