Examining our Hearts

8 February 2006: Wednesday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 7, 14-23: What makes things defiled.

Verse 15 is attributed to Jesus: There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him. It is attributed to him because it is very Aramaic. The Gospel passages show the reason why many Christians do not have food restrictions. After declaring all foods being clean, he teaches us that what makes us morally unclean is not what enters our mouths, but what is in our hearts. And because of this saying, we can say that we can eat anything and we cannot be considered unclean. On the other hand, the heart is also the source of our goodness.

Examples: Our health department has warned us about eating isaw in street corners because of its high risk for Hepatitis B. Or our hands are dirty. Or we eat dinuguan which is abomination to the INK. Or our favorite lechon, a taboo to our fellow Muslims. We believe that these things will not make us evil. As much as those who come to church daily, or those who recite their rosaries and novenas faithfully, guarantee us that they are undefiled.

Jesus corrects us by saying that the source of our evil --- or goodness--- is not the external things we do or take, but our hearts. We therefore can examine our actions. Do our actions mirror what is in our hearts? Do they reflect our basic identity as children of God?

I suggest that we make a list of things we do. Categorize these in three columns: Column A: a list about the things that mirrors our goodness. Column B: things that does not reflect our true nature as good, and Column C with things that are ambivalent (e.g. our hearts affirm the goodness of studies, and we study, but we also see some impure motivation such as competition). We continue what is in Column A, discontinue what is in Column B, and the most challenging, is to continually discern and purify what is in Column C.

*photo by Neo Saicon SJ

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