Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student
Where is my heart? Growing up, my parents rarely permitted us to eat junk food because we needed to take care of our bodies and eat food that provides nutrients and allow our bodies to function. If we only ate pancakes, big burgers, cake, ice cream and candy every day, our physical body would reflect this. We would become bloated. We would be low on energy. We would become lazier and simple tasks would become more and more difficult to perform. We would be killing our bodies. You might think that such a diet could be sustainable if you exercise a lot, but I say that I have tried to run after eating a tasty fried meal of fried chicken and, needless to say, my run quickly turned into a walk, and then into a sit. My body was not able to thrive because I was not giving it what it needed to excel, to be the best it could be, to grow, to become strong, to become a healthy person.
There was another rule that my parents enforced in their household. There was absolutely no tolerance for using profane language. No cursing, swearing or using words to hurt others. If you’ve ever seen the movie A Christmas Story, you are likely familiar with the scene in which Ralphie, the main character, had to sit with a bar of soap in his mouth for saying a curse word. Such was my fate if I ever dared to say any bad words in my parents’ presence. Why? It wasn’t an excuse for them to make me suffer or an attempt to give me blindness from soap poisoning. It was because they understood it was what came from our mouths and from our hearts which could sanctify or defile us. Just as Jesus says in the Gospel for today, “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile” (Mark 7:21-23).
Now, back to the junk food. We are sanctified or defiled by what is within us. If we feed our bodies junk food, we are, in a sense, defiling them in that we keep them from prospering and reaching their potential. The same goes for our hearts. What are we feeding our hearts? Do we feed it with thoughts of gossip, jealousy, lust, anger or pride? If so, our soul will become lazy and it will die. Just as physical exercise is hard when you live on junk food, spiritual exercise becomes more and more difficult if I feed my heart with junk. I can’t pray well if I am pondering how John Doe has a better car or how he cheated in the soccer game. My soul would become lazy, my prayer would become lazy and they will die. I must feed my heart with what is good. My soul needs goodness in order to grow, become strong, to thrive! I must ponder love, forgiveness, service, beauty, chastity. I must feed my heart what is of God. Then, my prayer will become strong and my actions will follow. I will become sustained not by the world but by God. Then I will realize that it truly is what comes from within that will sanctify or defile.