Scripture: Lectionary 331 2/8: I Kings 10:1-10. Psalm 37:5-6. 30-31.39-40. Mark 7:14-23
Mark gives us another controversial incident in the life of Jesus about ritual purification and foods that are considered unclean. The entire pericope (selection or paragraph) can be summed up in one of Mark’s main themes: “think the thoughts of God as Jesus shows us how to do this, not the thoughts of humans and their traditions.” Jesus says, “You neglect the commandment of God, in order to maintain the tradition of men.”(Mark7:8).
Jesus aware of the revelation in Genesis 1 tells us that all God created is good—yes, even very good (tov m’od). He declares all foods are clean while on the contrary what comes out of a person can be unclean (words, intentions, and actions seem to be included here in what is unclean or impure. The reiteration of the last four or five commandments are the way Jesus states what is impure and then he adds the following impurities that come from the recesses of the heart that is not one with God: maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and hard heartedness (the refusal to change or repent). Perhaps, we may consider this as a general examination of our conscience before we make a “general confession” in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Certainly, some of the elements may be part of our own struggles. Jesus is covering a lot of our human impurities or unclean behavior patterns.
We are the disciples of Jesus just like those who are spoken to as Jesus explains the “parable” or enigmatic listing of human sins. We as disciples are to be clean in the recesses of our hearts and with God’s help free of these sins. Then we are transparent and faithful disciples who live the life of following Jesus in the spirit of the beatitudes; we are happy and blessed.
As usual, our Psalm response with its chosen verses helps us to pray and meditate this teaching of the Master, our Lord. “The law of God is in the heart of the just ones and their steps do not falter.”Their mouth utters and murmurs wisdom which comes from the depths of their hearts. This thought from a commentary on Mark by C.F.D.Moule may stimulate our prayer: “It has been well said that nothing is more potent for good or evil in a person’s character than his imagination—what he dwells on in his private thoughts.” Amen.