Out of the shadow: evil intentions

Our reading from this Sunday (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23) is an important lesson about holding our patterns of behaviour, our personal and even community traditions up to the light of the Gospel. We are often quick do a quick surface-only reading of an encounter like this and think, “Jesus sure showed those bad folk up. Glad we are on Jesus’ team.” We need to be prepared to go deeper then that and let the light of the Gospel shine with its’ full brightness.

ShadowCross
Photo: Rob Park

In our reading, we heard that Jesus disciples were accused not following a certain religious practice and tradition of the day. But in our reading, Jesus gives the Pharisees and scribes making these accusations a pointed response stated that they are misusing the intention of the practice and using the adherence to tradition not as an aid to worship and faith but as a weapon against Jesus.

Jesus correctly saw that their motivation and intention was simply to discredit him and his teachings. The religious leaders, by speaking up were not intending to encourage or build up the faithful. And so Jesus makes clear that a followed or unfollowed tradition was nothing compared to the brokenness caused by evil intentions that come from within us.

Jesus says to the Pharisees and scribes and all who would listen , “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come”

Jesus says to the Pharisees and scribes and all who would listen , “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come”

Yes, the Pharisees and scribes were wrong and had “evil intentions” in speaking up, but this reading is also a good reminder for us, who are Christians, that when we read the scripture that we too quickly jump to the conclusion that we are on the right side.

Yes, the scriptures should strengthen us in our faith and give us the confidence of God’s loving grace, but Jesus teachings’ should also provide us with a moment of personal reflection to be sure that the pointy part of the message isn’t in some way pointed toward us.

Jesus teachings’ should also provide us with a moment of personal reflection to be sure that the pointy part of the message isn’t in some way pointed toward us.

In fact, I think it is good practice always ask ourselves the hard questions posed in our Gospel, honestly and truthfully. In the case of our reading today, we might ask ourselves, what things do I do that I might hide under the guise of good practice or tradition, but that I may do out of less than pure intentions?

In our reading, Jesus listed off all the big ones in his extensive list: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, and folly.

It only takes a pinch or a dash of any of the evil intentions that Jesus spoke of to take away from the Good News that Jesus desires for us to proclaim. Let the light of the Gospel shine with its’ full brightness!

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