Mark 7:14-23 NRSVue
14Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18He said to them, “So, are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19since it enters not the heart but the stomach and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
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Some thoughts on this scripture
Jesus called the crowd again. This lesson about the heart has to be repeated and stressed. Good manners and proper behaviour vary from group to group. But the underlying goodness or badness crosses all social divides. That is what we look to.
These sayings of Jesus would strike his listeners as paradoxical or strange. In Jewish culture, concerned as it was about food laws, just the opposite of what Jesus says would seem to be true: the eating of certain foods such as pork causes ritual defilement. Scholars wonder whether Jesus did in fact say, as Mark claims, that all foods are clean. If Jesus was clear on this point, why were there so many hard-fought struggles in the early Church over kosher foods as are to be found in Saint Paul's writings and in the Acts of the Apostles?
I recognise that I am surrounded by so much that is good and I give thanks. I realise that good things sometimes distract me from the source of all goodness and I ask for forgiveness.
I think of my words and actions and pray that what comes out of me brings goodness to others.