5th Week in Ordinary Time


The things that come out from within are what defile.


Nutritionists are often telling us to be careful about the amount of sugar, sodium, and fat in our diets.   But staying away from unhealthy foods isn’t enough.   We also need to focus on eating healthy foods. And we can, by taking advantage of the many alternatives that are out there.   It just takes a little bit of effort.

We can apply this approach to Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel (Mark 7:14-23).   How many times a day do we find ourselves doing, saying, or thinking something we know isn’t quite right?   But if we spend all our time exercising our willpower to fight sin, we’re going to get pretty exhausted!   Not only that, but we’ll begin to reduce the Christian life to a matter of saying and doing the right things.   We’ll lose sight of the purpose of all these commandments—to help us enjoy God’s love and peace.   So instead of just saying no, we need to actively say yes: yes to virtue, and yes to God’s grace.

It’s not as hard as it may sound.   Choose just one area to work on.   Maybe it’s anger, or impatience, or gluttony.   Think of something you’re well aware of and that God keeps reminding you about.   Then find ways you can build up the opposite virtue or habit.

Suppose you are impatient and easily agitated when you have to wait for someone.  Obviously, you want to try and be more patient.   But don’t just make a vague resolution.   Pick some concrete ways that will help you grow in patience.

For example, when you find yourself beginning to lose your patience, try praying a Hail Mary for whoever is holding you up.   Ask the Blessed Mother to bless that person and to help you react more calmly and peacefully.

You may not see immediate results, but that’s okay.   Change takes time, and God’s mercy is always available to you.   He knows you are trying, and he is pleased with your efforts.   Little by little, with his grace, you will start to see changes.

“Lord, when I’m tempted to sin, give me the grace to grow in virtue instead.”

1 Kings 10:1-10
Psalm 37:5-6, 30-31, 39-40