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Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
He 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.” (“Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear,” is omitted because it is lacking in some of the best Greek manuscripts and was probably transferred here by scribes from Mark 4:9, 23.)
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 a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, 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 Jesus, help me discern in my heart what is from you and what needs to be purified.
- Being Called Out: As I place myself within the crowd, I hear Jesus speak those words to me, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile” (Matthew 7:15). How does it resonate? How might he speak this statement today, when the human heart is aggressively bombarded with anti-Christian cultural undertones? It can be easy to blame the externals, but a culture is made of what comes from the human heart. Jesus is calling me out. He wants me to recognize that what comes from my heart creates the culture around me. Lord, do I add to the culture of consumerism, antagonism, and disrespect; or do I help create a culture of justice, charity, forgiveness, sincerity, trust in God’s Providence, and gratitude?
- Discerning the Heart: My heart is formed by external and internal influences. What forms my heart throughout the day: interactions with people, social media, TV shows, books, decisions for use of time, activities that fill my day? As I reflect on each one, I ask you, Lord, to show me what makes my heart more like yours and what defiles it. This is a difficult examination of the heart that requires a sincere desire for deeper transformation into the man/woman I am called to be. By “wrestling with Jesus” may I discover a renewed invitation to deeper conversion and deeper discipleship.
- Enthroning the Lord Within: The spiritual journey involves both aesthetical and mystical elements. This, simply put, means that the Lord, in his goodness, lets us participate in our own transformation, while always relying on his grace. All practical sacrifices and resolutions that we make are oriented to enthroning the Lord within. By freely choosing to read a good spiritual book over a trashy novel, we make space for the Lord to enthrone himself in our heart. By intentionally making time to go to confession this month, we make space to hear the Lord’s invitations to deeper friendship.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, make my heart your throne where you reign, and guide me in all my actions and decisions today. May my heart be filled with good and holy things that bring others to aspire to the same.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will examine my conscience and prepare for a deep confession of my heart of all that does not come from you or lead to you.
For Further Reflection: Introduction to Discernment of Spirits, https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/making-good-decisions/discernment-of-spirits/introduction-to-discernment-of-spirits; Examen Prayer app.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala
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