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.” Mark 7:14-23.
Have you ever felt like you were leading two different lives? On the one hand, there’s the “you” that everyone sees on a daily basis. It’s the personality you project to the world, maybe even to your closest friends and loved ones. But on the other hand, there may be a “you” that you keep hidden – a person who is hiding sins and imperfections, always trying to put on a good show.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus explains that the origins of sin and defilement are in the dispositions of the heart. In other words, the outward expressions of sin – cheating, lying, stealing, acts of impurity – all start as germs of thought and desire in our hearts. Think of an iceberg: A small portion is visible, but the biggest chunk of ice is below the surface. A ship’s captain may think that the tip of the iceberg is just a chunk of floating ice, nothing worth worrying about. But if he fails to account for the foundation, the results could be disastrous. In a similar way, if we discount our own sins as random acts of disobedience without dealing with what is churning away in our hearts, we too are asking for trouble. The hidden portion of the iceberg is still there and still very dangerous.
Experience tells us that what is in our hearts will eventually affect our behavior and our relationships. Holding on to sin in secret will darken our spiritual clarity and wound our friends and family members – often in ways we may not expect. And then there is also the stress we experience from trying to keep parts of our lives in the dark and having to keep up an act.
Imagine how much peace we would have if our inner hearts and outer lives truly were reflections of Christ. Today, let’s try to do just that, by bringing our inner darkness into the light of Christ. The best place to do this is…in our inner lives, through the gift of repentance, we can begin the process of healing and reconciliation. Come clean to the Lord, and watch to see how he brings peace and clarity to your heart!