External Practices have value only as it helps to develop internal Purity.
Today, 22nd Sunday in ordinary time themmother Church takes us back to Mark’s Gospel after a number of Sundays in which we heard the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John.
In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that it is what comes from our hearts that defiles us or makes us unholy. The Pharisees and Scribes maintain that defilement comes from without ; something external designated as unclean that goes into a person creates contamination. For them, external purity and external observance of the laws was considered the proof of integrity.
Jesus and his movement hold that contamination begins from the heart – in cultivation of evil thoughts , evil intentions and imaginations. Vices like , theft , murder, adultery , wickedness, deceit, envy, pride are what drive us to do evil things. While the Pharisees are obsessed with external things, in a hypocritical way, Jesus is concerned with the internal , he is concerned with what leads us to do evil.
Jesus’ words challenge us. In our desire to be holy, we might give too much credence to externals, following social laws without thinking about the intention behind them , weather they are “Just” laws or laws to intimidate certain people.
Rather, we become holy when we allow God’s Spirit to transform us. Our actions should be an expression of the conversion of our heart to God , to God alone and to God always.