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, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
How often have we swept dust under the carpet in a rush to make our living room look clean when a surprise guest shows up? Or gathered clothes strewn on the floor and shoved them into a cupboard out of sight to give our bedroom a semblance of neatness? I am guessing all of us have done this at some point because we don’t want anybody to think that we live like slobs - never mind that we do!
But I have always wondered why. Even if nobody lifts up the carpet or peeks into the cupboard, WE know that the house is a mess. Besides, at some point the dust under the carpet will have to be swept out, and the jumbled clothes hidden inside the cupboard will have to be folded and kept away neatly, or the mess will just get worse. So, why not just keep everything in order as a matter of course.
It is the same with our lives, isn’t it? We don’t want others to see the unclean state of our souls, so we put up a facade of holiness, but why not just be holy? Besides, it is such a strain to keep up an act all the time, isn’t it? We always have to live in the fear of being caught out. So why not just live a clean life? Don’t you think this will be easier? Ok, so there are basically three things that make us dirty: unclean thoughts, unclean words, and unclean actions.
If we wanna make these clean, we have to make our hearts clean because that is the source of everything. How do we do this? Well, how do we keep a house clean? We throw out the garbage every day, ruthlessly, I might add. We discard things that are not needed (hopefully!). And we launder or dust the other stuff. Ditto with life. We throw out the garbage that is sin. We eliminate things that are unnecessary for our spiritual growth. And we dust out the other stuff in the confessional.
If our hearts are very dirty, it might take some time to get them clean, but let us not be daunted by the enormity of the task. I was very messed up when I came to Jesus, but the Holy Spirit helped me get it in order, one thing at a time. There is no rush. Do it systematically, but steadily, and you will eventually have a heart that is clean. And that truly is a beautiful thing because what starts coming out of you thereafter is life giving.
No more dust under the carpet.