Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:14-23
I want to relay to you what happened to me yesterday in the chapel. I realize that everything I am about to say has been written better and more thoroughly by someone more holy than I in the past. I can only think that what I am about to relay is to serve as a reminder of the good God we serve.
Yesterday was a Tuesday, so I went to the chapel to pray the sorrowful mysteries. I had many intentions including for the soul of Father Clare Joseph Hendricks, whose funeral was yesterday. Please pray for the repose of his soul.
As I sat with my eyes closed meditating on the sorrowful mysteries, an evil grotesque thought was flung at me. It was so startling I knew it was Satan trying to invade my prayer, which made me angry, it made enmity rise up in me. I questioned God as to why that would be allowed in my prayer. And then I got overwhelmed.
In my head I pictured Jesus on the cross and he was being swarmed by what looked to be disgusting insects enveloping His body. And I knew this swarm to be the evil thoughts entertained in the heads of men and women, including myself. They physical pain He endured was bad enough, but this swarm, this impurity, this sin we hold in our heads for one another, swarmed Him to the point that He cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani.” My God, my God why have you forsaken me?
It was the thoughts we all have that He took on in His humanity and He let it envelope Him. He took all of it on in order that it all die when His humanity died, so that our humanity could be redeemed. He made expiation. And I wept at the realization of what we have done.
It wasn’t simply the physical suffering that made Him feel forsaken, it was the evil thoughts we have towards one another that made Him feel so separated from the Father. And I thought how often the same is true of us. When I was experiencing COVID it wasn’t as much the physical pain, though that was awful, it was the thought the devil kept flinging at me that I was so tempted to entertain, and like Eve in the Garden I had a choice. For her it came in the form of a question;
Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”
And the doubt in God’s goodness began to be entertained in her heart.
For me Satan said;
“Did God say that he really loves you?”
And it took every ounce of who I am, and the grace of God, not to entertain the evil suggestion that he doesn’t.
Physical weakness often makes it easy to believe the lies. Yet Christ stayed on the cross to expiate for these sins. He wants to put all evil to death and elevate us above it in order that we be divinized.
He wants us to partake in this expiation. He wants us to partake in destroying the works of the devil. That’s why each time we repair with Him grace flows abundantly.
Think of it this way, when a child falls and skins their knee, the body will actually begin to heal over time, but if mom steps in, cleans the wound, puts Neosporin on it and a band aid, the wound will actually heal faster. The effort of mom is miniscule compared to the body’s own healing capabilities, but the love with which mom does it and the small effort, actually does help the healing process. It is the same of Christ. He can heal the Body alone, but when we repair with him by offering our suffering in expiation and total love of him, we become coredeemers in the Kingdom and the wounds of mankind get healed faster because love grows exponentially. He doesn’t want to be the only one loving. Our small acts of love within our suffering will, through His grace, rain down the glory of God.
The only thing that can defile us is that which comes from within. All the evil thoughts we entertain, all the evil thoughts we turn into action, they defile the body. When we pay attention to our thoughts and to whose Kingdom they serve, and we try to purge the evil, asking for the grace of God, they repair the body; the Mystical Body, the church.
I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. Colossians 1:24