Jesus rejects false food rituals and reveals evil acts result from evil hearts. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Truth so he can live and demonstrate Christ’s truth in the darkened world and by growing in the Virtue of Prudence so he can diligently seek to purify his heart.
5th Week in Ordinary Time – Wednesday – Mk 7:14-23
After directly confronting and condemning the Pharisees for their man-made traditions that were in direct opposition to God’s laws, Jesus exhorts a crowd to undergo a deep inner conversion and to reject empty man-made rituals. Though not fully revealed to the crowd, Jesus is preparing for His New Covenant which will overturn the ritual practices (ritual washing, food restrictions, etc.) of the Old Covenant that separated Israel from the Gentiles, and draw all men together in Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.
Back at His lodging (likely, Peter’s home), the disciples are confused about Jesus’ teaching. Jesus gently rebukes the disciples for their lack of understanding and patiently explains His teaching. Using simple biology, Jesus confirms food by itself cannot defile a man for it is eaten, digested and eliminated. Like children moving from milk to solid food, Jesus’ New Covenant will eliminate the focus on dietary restrictions of the Old Covenant and focus men on the more substantial need to seek deep spiritual conversion and holiness.
Jesus turns from the digestive system to the centrality of the heart; in the biblical sense, the heart is the center of a man from which good and evil decisions originate that lead to holy or sinful deeds. Jesus points to the greater spiritual truth that a man’s true defilement is sinfulness brought on by an impure heart: “evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” Because of these kinds of vices and sins, men must repent and undergo a conversion of the heart so that they can live up to the higher purpose of loving God and neighbor.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Consider with holy fear the Combativeness with which Jesus responds to the false teachings of the Pharisees and in condemning Sin: He Mocks the Pharisees as He shows the absurdness of their empty rituals, using Humor to point to the fact that all food is clean until it is eliminated as excrement; Divine Justice, He reconfirms the defiling/damning impact and His absolute opposition to a long list of Sins.
Live Christ’s Truth in the darkened world
Realize: The modern world’s dark spiral into sin is caused by a rejection of the objective standards of morality, leaving a man with poor moral formation to assume that he can choose what he personally thinks is right and wrong; seeking to form one’s conscience based on the modern culture is disastrously false because many of the sins Jesus directly condemns in today’s reading are widely embraced and even pridefully celebrated in the diseased modern culture.
Believe: Reflect upon The Moral Law (CCC 1950-1986, 2031).
Pray: Jesus, Divine Truth, help me build the Virtue of Truth (a part of Justice) so that I willingly receive the truth of Your Moral Law, rigorously confront and repent from my own sins, and be guided by You to live a life of holiness, despite the Satan’s current horrific influence on the modern culture.
Use prudence to pursue purification
Realize: To live up to the Moral Law, Jesus calls men to inner conversion, confirming that men must purify their hearts so they can fully embrace holiness.
Believe: Reflect upon the Purification of the Heart (CCC 2517-2519).
Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Prudence so I petition You to help me purify my heart, prudently confront my sins, use foresight to avoid the near occasion of sin, build a disciplined habit to regularly examine my conscience, and frequently return to the Sacrament of Penance when I sin to be forgiven, and return again to the Spiritual Combat.