Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder,adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I wish that life really was the way the disciples believed: What you eat can defile you. This would make life so much easier for me. Although it may be hard to watch what I eat and drink, most of the time I can follow a healthy eating regimen.
But Jesus informs us that what defiles a person comes from within – from his heart: evil thoughts, greed, malice, deceit, envy, etc. These temptations are much harder to avoid. Thoughts and emotions like these develop instantly and often grow to fruition insidiously without much effort on my part. I have to be constantly on the lookout for these thoughts and feelings. I find that the Ignatian Daily Examen is a great tool to help me recognize these temptations. After realizing what thoughts and emotions are “defiling” me, I find that the best way of dealing with them is to bring them to Jesus in prayer.
—John Moriconi, S.J. is a Jesuit brother who serves as provincial secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit province.
1) Ask God for light
2) Give thanks
3) Review the day
4) Face your shortcomings
5) Look toward the day to come