Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.”
When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
God Said, “That’s Good” Transcript
There’s a strong contrast in our readings today. The first reading from the Book of Genesis-the last few days we’ve been hearing the story of creation. And we hear the account of… There are actually a couple of different creation stories within the Book of Genesis, of God breathing life into human beings; creating us in the divine image. Then as the story goes on, in the center of the garden God places the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God says, “You may eat of all of the fruit but of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil don’t eat because if you do you will surely die.” Well we know what’s coming, don’t we?
There’s something fascinating about wanting to know what’s on the dark side. There’s something in us that’s attracted to that, and Adam and Eve can’t resist. As the story unfolds, sin enters the world.
That’s the contrast in today’s Gospel from Mark where Jesus talks about what defiles us and there’s this list of sins that Jesus names that come from within a corrupted heart; a heart that wants to know not just what good is, but what evil is. God’s original intent is not that we would live as we are living now in the broken world filled with sin. God’s original desire is one of blessing. Don’t go there folks. Don’t eat of that knowledge of good and evil, but all of us make that choice, as our ancestors did.
Let’s go back to the center of today’s Gospel. The Lord God formed the man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life and so man and so woman became living beings. God breathing that breath, that holy spirit, inside each one of us.
Those lines were an inspiration for the African American poet James Weldon Johnson in his story “The Creation” that’s part of a larger poetic story called “God’s Trombones.” It’s one of my favorites and I’d like to share it with you now.
The Creation by James Weldon Johnson
Click to Read (external site due to copyright restrictions)