This is the time of year when we reap the produce from the garden, put it in bushels and boxes, and then get ready to process the food for the freezer or do some canning. Much care is taken to wash and scrub the food thoroughly and to get rid of the all the dirt and mud. Sometimes it seems like and endless task.
My family laughs at me when I buy a watermelon and scrub it in the sink. I wash it with a brush and then put bleach in the water making sure the watermelon is completely covered by the bleach water. I remember reading a story about a family getting sick by eating the melon.
In today’s reading by Mark Jesus was talking about another kind of cleaning. The Pharisees and scribes talked to Jesus about a tradition of the elders about cleaning pots, jugs, washing hands before eating and purifying food before it was eaten.
Jesus answered very directly. “Nothing that enters from the outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile!”
What a clear and vivid retort Jesus gave the Pharisees. It is the murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, envy; blasphemy, arrogance, and folly that come from within one are the things that defile.
Just hearing the words from Jesus’ mouth make me back up, run for cover and wonder what is been coming from my mouth. I thought there is only one thing to do. I must get myself clean by every way possible. Do I take a big scrub brush and wash myself until I get every spot of dirt off myself? Do I take a long bath brush and scrub myself in the shower until I am clean. Do I scrub my floors and windows and bathroom tub and toilet so everything is clean? No, I do none of that.
What God is asking you and I to do is to scrub the inside of our mind, the inside of our mouth with sanctifying grace over and over and over until no evil thought enters our minds. This cleaning must go on daily, hourly, minutely until there is no filth, evil thoughts, no ungracious thoughts no whining no envy, and no filth of any kind. I purposely did not use the term blackness because in the past it has been indicated in a racist context. I use the term evil instead, that is to be eradicated by the Grace of God.
Clean ourselves with God’s Grace by entering into the crevices of our mind to eradicate all that is not of God. The Holy Spirit will let all of us know where to find the evil within our hearts and minds and spirits. Temptations can have a curious habit of entering our mind just at the edge of our conscious thought and have a tendency to breed there just as bacteria breed before spilling out into a malicious infection that sometimes goes unnoticed for weeks or months.
Picture in your mind your favorite brush and ask God’s grace to surround it, soak it, and strengthen the power in that brush so you can disinfect, make holy, sanctify whatever part of your brain that needs cleaning. Ask God to fill you with Sanctifying Grace.
It is important to remember to do cleaning daily. Situations can exacerbate what comes into our minds and then situations like road rage can happen. Rage can enter our minds and then family arguments can start. Envy can happen readily and then, left inside the mind, evil can grow and multiply.
This Gospel was not written to make us afraid but to warn each of us that inner cleanliness is more important than exterior cleanliness. Just a warning!! Do not tell your children that they are not to brush their teeth or wash their hands before eating. We, as adults know what this message of Mark means to the adults sitting here.
Perhaps put a brush in a special place in your house to remind you of the special cleaning we all need to do each day.