February 11, 2015

Gospel MK 7:14-23
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.”
When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Like the people of Jesus’s day, I can get caught up in appearances, “polishing the outside of the cup” while at the same time ignoring those things that ferment inside me and separate me from God.
In today’s gospel Jesus conveys to the “crowds”and to us that unchecked, sins will wrap themselves around and choke out the roots of our God given virtues.
Our sins cause us to feel ashamed and then we separate or hide from God.
It has been said that the most dangerous situation is not being aware of one’s own sinfulness. I believe that is true because if I am not aware of my sinfulness then I have no awareness of my need for forgiveness.
Both the Catholic Church and Alcoholics Anonymous have a similar solution for calling to mind one’s sins.
The Church calls us to self-examination and reconciliation (confession). Honest self-examination is essential in order for reconciliation to bring about a healing of our heart.
AA’s 4th and 5th step call for a “rigorously honest”, personal self-examination in relation to the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth.
This personal examination is a process that helps us to look “deep within” ourselves to find the “root causes” of the behaviors that separate us from God.
Following this taking of one’s “personal inventory”, the alcoholic then sits with a trusted friend and admits to God, themselves and their friend the “exact nature of their wrongs”.
Jesus came to tell the Jews and us that Our Father is loving, always desiring us to be with him. God is stable, he never separates himself from us.
Looking into one’s soul is a painful and humbling process. However, the reward that follows “rigorous” self-examination, admission of one’s wrongs, and a commitment to start fresh is the path that leads to being united and at peace with our patient and loving God.
Jesus said:
“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 8:32