“What comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.”

Jesus follows His encounter with the Pharisees by turning His attention back to the crowd (Mk 7:14-23).  He follows up on His previous discussion by pointing out that defiling comes from within not from without.  Explaining this further at home to His disciples, He describes many evils that can lurk in the heart of man that defile him.  Here we recall Peter’s vision reaffirming the ritual cleanness of all creatures (Acts 10:11-16).  It is not some culinary ritual that makes a person free from iniquity.  It is his disposition.  It is worth providing the entire list of sins Jesus spoke of: “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.” (v. 22)  Not a bad checklist for our own daily examination of conscience, and particularly worth reviewing prior to sacramental confession.  Being aware of the vices that defile us — and their gravity — is the initial step in working on removing these faults.  Jesus constantly challenges us in the gospels.  Hardly more so than in this episode.


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