Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile." When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."
Today is Wednesday the 12 February, in the fifth week of Ordinary time.
St Ignatius recommends beginning every period of prayer by asking God for the grace to be completely open to him during this time. I can make that same prayer now as I listen to Bifrost Arts singing, ‘O God, will you restore us’.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus takes the Pharisees’ notion of ‘defilement’ and turns it inside out. Instead of it being a word I might use self-righteously to mean being ‘sullied’ by unholy people and unholy things around me, it becomes a check on myself, a warning not to defile myself by allowing evil to enter the world through me. How do I react to that warning?
People are very careful these days about what they eat. But how do I take care about what comes out of me, about what I say and do?
As I listen to the reading once more, I remember that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit, that God dwells in me. What is Jesus telling me about what goes into and what comes out of that temple?
I speak to God, who is present here now with me, about whatever thoughts and feelings have arisen in me in this time of prayer. What do I want to say to God, now?