Thursday, July 30, 2009
"Hear me, all of you, and understand:There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out of a person are what defile the person.” Mark 7:14-15
We have an ongoing debate about my mother's refrigerator and freezer. When my sister comes to visit my Mom, she and her husband have been known to take a good deal of everything that is in there and throw it out. Some things are past their expiration date. Some things are wrapped in odd packages and look weird. Other things have been in there so long they have first names. My mother, who is totally lucid and lives on her own quite well, takes it all in stride. I, on the other hand like to leave things well enough alone. Her refrigerator and freezer are hers. She hasn't had food poisoning and is quite healthy. She comes from a generation who uses up everything and wastes nothing. We all have a lot to learn from her generation. My sister thinks she is protecting her. I know that my Mom prays at every meal, and I trust God to protect her. Besides, refrigerators are private and personal. My philosophy is this; What goes on in the refrigerator stays in the refrigerator.
Jesus makes a special announcement to his disciples in front of the religious leaders. He want to be very clear so he says, "hear me and understand." This is not a parable, a story to explain how God works, but rather, a bold and transparent truth. It is not what goes in that makes for evil and cruelty - no mistake or failure in following the dietary laws of the day is going to break your relationship with God. It is the unkind and cruel things we do and how poorly we treat other people that breaks the heart of God. Jealousy, cruelty and greed are not caused by what we eat. Jesus invited the gathered and us today to remember that nothing we eat or don't eat can corrupt us. It is what we do and what ill we harbor that corrupts us.
Today, I want to ask forgiveness for all the anger and envy I harbor. I want to worry only about how well I treat people and how much compassion I hold in my heart. I pray that we can all live today with the love God has given us. A love which cares nothing for society's rules but cares completely for each and every one of us. We are invited by Jesus to let go the restrictions and love across all barriers of culture, religion or lifestyle.