Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 7, 14-23

He called the people to him again and said, 'Listen to me, all of you, and understand.

Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean.

Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!'

When he had gone into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable.

He said to them, 'Even you -- don't you understand? Can't you see that nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean,

because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer?' (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.)

And he went on, 'It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean.

For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder,

adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly.

All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel continues the discussion about what is clean and what is unclean which already began in yesterday’s Gospel. It is a decisive issue for the teaching of Jesus who calls the crowd around himself to show them the true religious dimension of life. He also wants to respond directly to the question that the Pharisees had asked on why the disciples were eating with “defiled hands.” My disciples - Jesus answers - do so because “there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” The key is the heart. In the Bible the heart is not only the place of feelings, but also that of decisions and choices. From the heart come evil thoughts, impure intentions, and evil decisions. It is the heart, therefore, that we must care for; from the heart we need to eradicate the bitter herbs of hatred, revenge, greed and oppression. Jesus clearly says, “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.” These are the evil feelings and actions that trigger violence and conflict. The central battle of life is fought in the heart to free it from evil instincts and sow the seed of love. We must not trust the heart, because, as the prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart” (17:9-10). This is why we need to cultivate in our hearts the Word of God by making it bear fruits. Mary, the first among the believers, teaches us this from the beginning. The Gospel says, “She kept all these things in her heart,” everything she saw that was happening to Jesus. This is why her thoughts and her works were good, because they came from a heart purified by continued, and the uninterrupted listening of, the Word of God and by the uninterrupted contemplation of what Jesus did. It is the way that we ought to follow, if we want to live in purity of heart.