Wednesday of the 5th Week of the Year

Gen 2:5-9, 15-17; Mk 7:14-23

The Tradition of the Elders

According to one of the beliefs and traditions of our elders, if we have mole on our lips or black spot on our tongue we are daldalero/daldalera or tismoso/tsismosa.

You know what, when we try to reflect upon the offences committed by our tongues, the list is very long like: pride, envy, revenge, impatience and so on. It is not only that our tongue has gotten out of control but the virtues of which it should be an instrument of expression of these virtues has been decayed.

Think of the evils our tongues can multiply, like: the lost of reputation, the lost right to what all hold most dear – some measure of respect and honor, some friends to trust them and to sympathize with them and others. That is why Jesus says: “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

In biblical tradition too, the heart is the center and origin of our decision and action. It is the place where God wants to encounter men and women. It is also where evil begins and takes hold of a person. That is why in our gospel, Jesus tries to direct the Jews to a deeper understanding of purity and impurity without negating their ritual practices. In Jesus’ time too, purity or impurity is applied to worship as well as to hygiene, medical and sexual behavior of men and women. It is impure or sinful to touch the dead body, to have sexual relation with the wife of another person and to eat certain food. It is even impure to eat without washing ones hands (Mk 7:4) as it was stated in the gospel yesterday. And it is pure and good if a person follows the laws of ritual purity.

That is why He says: “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person but the things that come out from within are what defile.” In other words, food and all kinds of animals is okay and can be eaten and these could not defile us. What defile a person are the things coming from his/her heart that can destroy other’s reputation in the society, respect, honor, trustworthiness and friendship. How? It is mentioned in today’s gospel in verses 21-22: evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly.

Therefore, we can say that purity or impurity is in the realm of the heart. True renewal is first of a matter of the heart. Outward displays of holiness does not follow that we are pious, holy and religious person.

I invite you to reflect on the words of James McKarns in his book entitled Give Us This day: “If a person has hate in his heart, a thousand papal blessings will be powerless to help him. If a person is filled with the love of Jesus, a million of curses and spells will be harmless.”

See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

OPTION  01,   02,   03,

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