September 2nd: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Parish Family,
Dear Parish Familly, “Hear me and understand,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel from Mark, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. From within people, from their hearts come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly. All these come from within, and they defile.”
So, are we basically evil? The reformed protestant theologians believe that mankind was crated in the image and likeness of God, but due to sin has become totally corrupted. According to them sinfulness affects a person’s nature including his will. This was taken to the extreme by the Predestinationists who believed that God has chosen some for salvation and others for damnation and that man cooperating with the grace of God matters.
The Catholic belief is that we are basically good. Every person is made in the image and likeness of God and every person can bring a unique reflection of God to the world. Sin tempts us to do evil but we can fight off the temptation. In Genesis 4, before Cain kills his brother Abel, God says to him, “Sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
We have sin lurking at the door of our hearts. We must master it. We can best do this by keeping our hearts pure. We cannot allow that which is evil to have a hold within us. That means that we have to be on our guard. A battle is being waged for our souls. Evil lurks. Suggestions are made we hear people say things like, “it’s not all that bad. It’s a new world now.” We are in conversations where people say, “So what if you get drunk, everybody else does.” or “Morality is relative, and it is up to me to decide” or “Sure, this or that is wrong, but there can be exceptions.”
And before we know what hit us, our thoughts have been turned to evil. We question what is right or wrong, and open the door for evil to take hold of our hearts. Instead of saying, “This is wrong; this is sinful,” we compromise. In our minds we say, it’s OK for the kids to behave like this or that.” What should be black or white, has turned to gray within us. It is only a matter of time then, when we ourselves begin acting on our gray thoughts. And then that which comes from within defiles us. The thought of using others for our own selfishness, be that envy or lust, taking what is theirs, adultery, greed malice, licentiousness, etc, etc. all begin from within, from the gray thoughts.
We have to put up a fight against evil. We have to remain pure for the Lord. To do this we need the grace of the sacraments, particularly penance. We need the strength of the Eucharist. And we need the company of our Catholic Community. We need positive friends who help keep us accountable. So as we meditate on today’s Gospel, let us ask for the grace to keep our hearts pure and holy before God and neighbor.
God bless you,
Sister Maria Inviolata, SMDG