February 10, 2021 – Gospel: Mark 7:14-23
This homily on Mark 7:14-23 was originally delivered at all-school Mass at Bishop Chatard HS, Indianapolis in 2014
Today’s Gospel is about eating at Subway – at least that’s what came to mind for me.
I go to Subway whenever I am trying to convince myself I need to eat healthier. I order turkey on whole wheat, no cheese. Lots of veggies, hold the mayo. I top it off with a Diet Coke to go. Low calorie, very healthy.
Then, as the cashier is ringing up my order, I say, “And three cookies, please.” Subway cookies are the best. And you have to get three, right? They’re three for $1.00. Who would just buy one?
I follow the rules of healthy eating, right up until I order the cookies.
My wife uses this same logic when she goes shopping. She brings home several bags. She shows me the clothes she bought for one of our kids. She is so proud because they were such great deals. They were all on sale! Then she adds, “And with the money I saved, I bought these two outfits for Ellie!” (Ellie is our granddaughter.)
She followed the rules of cost efficient shopping, right up until she bought the two extra outfits.
I think we are all guilty of this to some degree. We attempt to mentally justify our questionable actions. We have done something good, so maybe it entitles us to do something not so good.
Which brings me to today’s Gospel. The Jews were rule followers. The faithful Jewish people who observed Jesus questioned Him on why He ate food that Mosiac Law declared unclean, and why He sometimes ate without washing His hands as was the custom.
In my own words, this is what Jesus said: “Are you kidding Me? I have seen the things you do. You lie, and steal, and commit adultery. You have evil thoughts and you act on them. You claim to be a God-fearing, faith-filled people. Based on what? The type of food you eat? Following these laws and customs does not give you the right to do all of these other things.”
Buying turkey on whole wheat doesn’t mean we can get three cookies.
He explained further, in graphic language, that the food we put in our bodies is of little consequence. It just ends up working its way back out anyway. I quote:
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?
In today’s the Gospel, Jesus tells us that it’s not important what we put in our mouths to eat. What’s important is what comes out of our mouths. Do we choose to use kind, loving words or words that hurt or demean?
He does not want us to concern ourselves with things of the stomach. Instead, we should concern ourselves with things of the heart.
What do we take away from this?
Going to Mass and spending time in prayer can provide a great foundation for a faith-filled life. Doing these things, however, does not give us a free pass to ignore God at other times, or disregard our call to love and serve Him and others.
It’s great that we are good friends to hang out with, spending time with our friends and enjoying one another’s company. Doing that, however, does not mean its OK for us to avoid a friend who is going through a difficult time because it makes us uncomfortable.
Telling our parents that we love and appreciate them is a true gift to them, but saying those words does not make it acceptable for us to treat them with disrespect by our actions.
God doesn’t want us to live a balanced life when it comes to loving Him. He wants the scales tipped in His favor. He wants us to be all in.
If our plan is to be followers of Jesus Christ, we should not order the cookies.