By Fr. Tony Fortman, C.PP.S.
In Mark’s Gospel today, we hear Jesus speak to the pharisees and scribes, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Jesus is having a hard time with the pharisees because they were not fair, you see. The outward appearance meant a lot to the pharisees. To be seen giving alms; to pray openly for all to see; wearing a prayer shawl, which set them apart from others. For some pharisees and scribes this meant more than the cleansing of one’s heart. We hear the words in Psalms 51:12, “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Jeremiah speaks of a necessity for the people of Israel to change their ways. There is the outward show of sacrificing lambs to God but their dealings with one another were considered a life of dissipation.
Jesus wants the people of Israel to change. Jesus’ kingdom does not deal with getting rid of the Romans or empowering the Jewish leaders of his time. Jesus has a hard time with sin and his battle is with sin. God freely allows us to think and do what we want. I can freely waste my time each day and spend hours on the internet. We make our own decisions. We are responsible for our own motivation and decisions. We can freely think of evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery etc.
God wants us to live a free life, which allows us to be free of the bondage of sin. Sins are addicting and after a time are hard to escape. A spiritual director told me, “Be ready to escape your thinking.” Sometimes our thoughts need to be shut off immediately. Harboring and entertaining some thoughts lead you down a rabbit trail of evil.
I encourage sifting of thoughts. Sometimes people come to me and ask how they can escape their stinking thinking. I tell them to sift. Like one would sift through sand to get to a golden nugget, we to have to let go of some thoughts immediately. Throw it out of your heart and head. Some thoughts have no merit and no value especially when you are praying. All this is important because thoughts eventually lead to action, whether good or bad. Thoughts can lead us away from Christ. God bless you all.
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Fr. Tony Fortman, C.PP.S., is the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Glandorf, Ohio.