The Pure Heart: Cultivating Inner Holiness in Christ

February 07, 2024; Wednesday of Week 5

GOSPEL- Mark 7:14–23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “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.”

When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.

The Pure Heart: Cultivating Inner Holiness in Christ

In today’s passage from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus addresses the crowd and teaches them about the true nature of defilement. He emphasizes that it is not what enters a person from the outside that defiles them but rather what comes from within.

Jesus explains that external factors, such as food or external circumstances, do not have the power to defile a person. Instead, it is the thoughts, attitudes, and actions that emanate from the depths of one’s heart that have the potential to defile.

His disciples, seeking further understanding, inquire about this parable. Jesus patiently explains that what goes into a person’s body, such as food, does not have a direct impact on their spiritual purity. Rather, it is the intentions, desires, and actions that arise from the heart that truly define a person’s moral and spiritual state.

He proceeds to list a range of vices that can corrupt the heart: evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly. These are the inner struggles that can defile a person and distance them from God’s grace.

This teaching reminds us that true purity and holiness are matters of the heart. It is not enough to merely observe external rituals or conform to societal expectations. Our focus should also be on cultivating a heart that is aligned with God’s commandments, filled with love, compassion, and righteousness.

Let us reflect on our own lives and examine the state of our hearts. Are there any impure thoughts, attitudes, or actions that we need to address? Are we allowing envy, greed, or deceit to take root within us? Are we harboring resentment or malice towards others?

It is essential that we turn to God in sincere repentance and seek His grace to cleanse our hearts from all that defiles. Through prayer, the sacraments, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can experience true transformation and purification from within.

As we journey through life, let us strive to guard our hearts diligently, allowing the love and teachings of Christ to shape our thoughts, words, and actions. May we be instruments of God’s love, spreading goodness, compassion, and forgiveness to all those around us.

May the teachings of Jesus inspire us to prioritize the purification of our hearts and to live as faithful disciples, rooted in love and holiness. Let us pray for the grace to overcome the vices that defile us and to embrace a life centered on Christ, who renews us from within. Amen.


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