“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.” (Mark 7:21-23)
I was just relaxing in my room the other day and I mistakenly kicked my television’s remote control. It went straight under the couch so I bent down to pick it up. I stretched as hard as I could to pick it but my hand could not get to it. So I lifted up the entire couch and lo and behold, guess what I found? Honestly, if anyone told me I had such a huge amount of dirt under that couch, I would not have believed.
Dear friends, yesterday the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus and his disciples of eating with hands “defiled” all because they did not wash according to the tradition of the elders. Today, Jesus explains that it is not the food we eat that defiles us but the contents of our hearts. Defilement comes from within; from the inside of man.
How often do you take out time to examine the nature of the thoughts that occupy your mind most of the time? Apart from unconscious actions (acts of man), such as sneezing or blinking, there is nothing we do without prior meditation in our hearts. This means, if we want to know where our troubles (defilements) come from, we need to turn our gaze inwards.
The good news is that if we want our lives to change for the better, all we need to do is to change our thoughts. The book of Proverbs says: “Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). Your thoughts are powerful, they determine what becomes of your life. Where your thoughts are now, there you will soon be. Where you are now is where your thoughts were in the past.
If you want to cleanse your life from sin, begin by cleansing your heart. Do not leave your mind on auto-pilot. Control your future by taking full control of your mind. St. Paul writes to the Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
Our first reading today presents the second account of creation in the book of Genesis. While the first account puts man as the last and highest of all God’s creations, the second account puts man as the first/centre of the created universe. While this second account seeks to prove that the whole world was made for the sake of man, it also highlights that we are made from dust to teach us humility.
One striking difference between the first and second account of creation is the forbidden tree. In the first account, we read: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food’” (Genesis 1:29) Meanwhile, in the second account, we read: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2:16-17). No wonder, when satan tempted Adam and Eve, the question he began with was: “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1).
The fact that there are two accounts of creation in the Bible does not mean that the Bible is incorrect rather it is the Bible’s way of emphasizing one truth – that God created us. This message is so important that it needed to be said twice.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, cleanse me from inside out so that whatever comes out of me will be pleasing to you. Amen.
Bible Study: Genesis 2:4-9,15-17, Psalm 104, and Mark 7:14-23).