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A Heart Like Christ’s
Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I believe that your heart is open and ready to receive me this morning. I want to please you. Help me to listen closely to your words as I pray.
- Hear and Understand: After his admonition of the Pharisees (yesterday’s reading) Jesus turned and implored the crowd gathered there to “hear and understand” his teaching. We might imagine some urgency in his manner, reflecting his heart’s desire that the crowd not be misled by their rulers. He was saying it’s not what we eat, but how we speak and behave that has the power to either glorify the Father or defile us. May we take his words as seriously as his listeners and disciples did, and reflect and repent, if necessary, on any sins of the tongue or defiling behaviors.
- Special Access: The disciples had been chosen by Jesus for close collaboration in the mission. He dedicated most of his time to forming them with special care and attention. They had the unique privilege of being able to ask Jesus for more detailed explanations of his teachings. We too have the ability to share intimate experiences with Christ since, through prayer and the sacraments, we have a special connection to him and can be alone with him. In this moment of solitude with Christ, let us ask him the questions closest to our heart.
- Jesus’ List: Jesus leaves us no wiggle room when he warns us against behaviors that can sully our soul and separate us from the Father. However, by our power of rationalization we humans can still fall prey to these sins, and others besides. Because we love Jesus, we strive to resist these temptations by putting on the armor of Christ. “So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). To strengthen ourselves, we frequent the sacrament of Reconciliation, receive the Eucharist at Mass as often as possible, and spend time in prayer each day.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, how I want to have a heart like yours! A heart with one desire: to do the will of your Father, to glorify him, and to love all of humanity! Your heart is the purest of all hearts. My heart is wayward, and I can see by the way I act, by what comes out of my mouth, that I need your grace. Today I choose to let you transform my heart.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pay close attention to what I say and strive to glorify you with every word.
For Further Reflection: Bite Your Tongue! A Reflection on Common Sins of Speech, by Msgr. Charles Pope.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.