Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Human Heart

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
'This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.'
"You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."
Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God)—then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this."
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 7:1-23
Some of the deepest wounds I have come from the people I loved and trusted. Some of the deepest wounds I have inflicted have come to those I was closest to. We often lash out at those we love, and envy and pride made us do ugly things. Jealousy can drive us to betray and make someone's life miserable. The worst hurts, the one's that last the longest come from a festering cruelty that was born in a jealous, angry heart. I have found that I people who make me angry are often those who carry some truth, and I must face the truth and ask forgiveness all the time.
The religious leaders were testing Jesus and chastising him for not following all the dietary laws. He knew among the religious hierarchy in front of him,  there were  those who were plotting against another, those who were jealous and proud, and those who were festering with anger and self-deceit. Like any other leadership group with many type-A personalities, they were struggling to get ahead. Some were willing to climb over others to do so. But Jesus saw through to their hearts, as he sees through to ours. God invites us to examine our hearts today, putting aside those things that would pollute and destroy our ability to love.
Today, I ask God to help me examine mt heart, and do the hard work of letting go, cleaning house and forgiving others. May we set aside all of our ego needs, so that the world might be exposed, through us, to the perfect heart of God.

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