Need Help Changing your Ways?

Today we are still in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 7, but we’re making a little transition.  As we look at verses 14-23, we could jokingly say, “Tell us what you really think, Jesus!”  That’s because he does not mince any words.

We just finished the verses about honoring your mother and father and Jesus telling those gathered that making a donation to the temple does not nullify their responsibility to take care of their parents.  And now, today, he talks quite frankly about what defiles us.

Here’s the deal.  Whatever you put into you, can’t defile you because it comes from the outside.  But what does get you in trouble are the things going on inside of you.

Whatever foods you take in for instance, comes in and then goes out, but whatever is coming out of you—like your words and actions—comes from what is in your heart, and “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance or folly” all defile you.

This is all the more reason why we should keep a strong prayer life, for prayer, the grace of God, and the Holy Eucharist all help us purify our minds as well as our hearts so that we can be strong against temptation.

Of course we do not do it perfectly, but our best chance comes with an interior conversion.  This conversion goes hand in hand with penance.

In Paragraph 1430 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are affirmed that this call by Jesus to “conversion and penance” is not aimed at outward works, but that interior conversion.

Continuing in paragraph 1430 we read this amazing description of what this interior change looks like:

“Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.  At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace.”

I love the language—radical reorientation—and the fact that this interior conversion is two-fold.  Not only are we sickened by what we have done, but we so desire and resolve to change our ways that we know conversion is possible when we wholly depend on God’s mercy and trust.

Never give up trying to do what is right, knowing that with God all things are possible.

Janet Cassidy


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