Read Genesis 2:4-9,15-17, Ps. 104:1-2,27-30, Mark 7:14-23

“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? … It is what comes out of a person that defiles.” (Mark 7:18-20)

Food is such an all-important factor as far as human life is concerned. Food has also brought about the death of many. Nations have gone to war over food, and kings have been dethroned as a result of food. Friendships and even brotherhoods have fallen apart as a result of food, even birth rights have been exchanged over bowls of food.

The saying is true that where there is food, there is life! Nevertheless, one has to be careful because some so-called foods are poisonous. It may surprise you to note that the very first law God gave to mankind was centred around food: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it, you are surely doomed to die.”

Food is good but not every food is good for you. No matter how hungry you are, ensure that what you are about to eat will not lead to your destruction. Learn to exercise self-discipline and caution. This brings us to the point Jesus is making in today’s Gospel passage.

Yesterday, we read that Jesus and his disciples were accused of committing a sin by eating without first washing their hands. In his defence, Jesus quoted Isaiah: “These people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” Meaning that the people were more concerned with frivolities, that is, with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law.

Jesus makes us understand that God is not so much offended by our failure to wash our hands before eating as much as He is offended by the kind of thoughts we carry in our hearts. Of course, if we eat with dirty hands, we might fall sick or even die but this is not as bad as suffering eternal damnation in hellfire as a result of our sinfulness.

The Jews took the laws concerning food seriously to the extent that they declared certain foods unclean; that is, capable of defiling a person. Jesus is saying that the food itself does not defile, but the thoughts within one’s heart that defile. No one sins unconsciously, we are the products of our thoughts.

If you want to live a good life, start by selecting your thoughts just as you would select your food. As there are poisonous foods, so there are poisonous thoughts. For instance, Jesus said: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The very thought of lust, the mere imagination of sleeping with a woman who is not your wife is poison. Even though you do not act it out or do anything in this direction, you have already committed a sin. And this goes for all other sins as well.

Jesus is not demanding the impossible from us. Jesus wants us to know that if we are serious about eliminating sin from our lives, we must start from the roots. It is not enough to say: “I will never commit fornication again.” If you really mean it, then stop thinking about it. Develop a clean heart and you will have a clean life.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, make me spiritually healthy always. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of week 5 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Genesis 2:4-9,15-17, Ps. 104:1-2,27-30, Mark 7:14-23). 

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu