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February 13, 2019 Featured

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book PNG2112Gospel: Mark 7:14-23
Jesus then called the people to him again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen. ”When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about this saying, and he replied, “So even you are dull?

Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and  is finally passed out?” Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean. And he went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency,  slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him.”

Biblical scholars might  put this in the category of sayings attributed to Jesus that actually have their roots in the early life of the church. Recall how Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, had a dream that prompted the insight that traditional dietary laws no longer applied to the church. This opened the way to a new policy of receiving gentiles into the church without the requirement of circumcision or submission to Jewish religious law. It is hard to believe that such a revelation would have been necessary for Peter had Jesus clearly taught that “all foods are clean.” Nevertheless, that insight ob­viously had its roots in the me­mory of Jesus and his consistent spirit of freedom in the face of the law—as well as the opposition and controversy this provoked. Here Jesus defines the basis of this controversy by shifting  the debate away from externally im­posed laws to the content of our hearts. It is not our obedience to external rules or regulations that determines  our  righteousness or “cleanness” but the quality of what is inside us.“Cleanness” is not a word we tend to use. Substitute “Good Catholic.”

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