Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Today’s Gospel features a curious pronouncement from Jesus: “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” Glancing around at our current culture, it’s not hard to see all the garbage can come enter us – pornography, political partisanship, and social media to name a few sources. How do we understand what Jesus is telling us in light of the things that can creep into our lives?
It’s important to remember what “defilement” meant for first-century Jews. The word Jesus uses in this passage can be translated as “common” or “ordinary”. God gave Israel these food laws as a way to set them apart as his people. They needed a spiritual detox after their time in Egypt, and imposing rules on what one can and cannot eat ingrains that kind of self-control. Foods were used to mark the nation and to help them distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, the sacred and the profane.
Jesus recognized that the Pharisees and other religious leaders had lost sight of why the law existed. They had situated the origin of evil in exterior causes. Now it’s true that God is at work in creation and the works of men, but God is not just in those things. Good and evil don’t just exist in things. Our world is confused on this, and we can see when we try to just take things away or block things out instead of changing behavior.
The source of evil and sin should not be assigned to created things. When God made the world, he saw that all things were good. Man, through original sin, can warp the material and profane it by not using it for the purpose it was set apart to be. It are these disordered tendencies that, when acted upon are what defiles a man. Eating is good and there are no objectively evil foods for us. Eating too much of this is where the evil sets in. The human body is good. Using our created beings in ways against God’s design, like objectifying it in pornography, is evil.
Our holiness and purification, then, must start from within. God has set us apart from the world. There is a sacredness to the baptized Christian that demands action on our part, all with the help of God’s grace. Locating sin in physical objects, as the Pharisees did, risks avoiding dealing with sin in the heart. Knowing this, we can root out the actions that defile men and objects. We have control over what comes from within and the help of God to do it.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
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The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's reflection was written by Kevin Gregus, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago.