What Defiles You
WE ARE GROWING AS A COMMUNITY!
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Hello everyone, how you doing sunshine? I hope you’re doing fabulous. I am doing great.
I have to start off by saying I apologize if there’s any kind of background noise. It’s the Labor Day weekend in Chicago and everybody is either mowing their lawn, taking their boat for a ride, running around on wave runners, geese, cicadas—lots of noises. I cannot buy a break and my house has kind of thin walls and old windows so you can hear a lot. So, sorry if there’s some background noise. I’ll do my best to talk over it because … I know I can do that.
Here’s the cool thing. For those of you who weren’t all geeked up about the bread of life discourse like I was for the last five weeks, today is not that! We are done with John and the bread of life discourse and the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This one applies to everyone and I just want to say everyone in the workforce pay attention because corporate America needs an attitude adjustment. Everybody needs to start building a compassionate culture! Let me start off by reading the Gospel … glasses on… I have yet to get those bifocal multifocal contacts. If anyone has them and they’re good, let me know because I am dying with these things anymore.
Gospel Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.—
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.
“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.”
Okay…when I think about this, this is the lesson. We have rules. We have 10 commandments that we’re supposed to follow. At that time the Jewish tradition had 600 plus that they added.
All of these were what Jesus was trying to say, human traditions, were really going against the love thy neighbor and love everyone is yourself. And oh, by the way, that means everybody, not just the chosen people, but the Pagans and the gentiles who were not the chosen people.
I can apply this to my life because I will be honest with you. I thought I was compassionate. I thought, “Hey, I’m a good person. I’m pretty nice to people. I don’t purposefully defame them or slander people.” But then through my faith I was given the grace of real love and compassion from God and yes, this is a grace that HE gives you because I didn’t have it. I didn’t. I would be the one talking behind the closed doors, gossiping about so and so. As a matter of fact, when I got a piece of information that I wanted to share, I was the first one to get out there and share it.
I would look at that guy or gal down the hallway who nobody really liked and I would run in the other direction. I liked the people who were like me and who thought like me. No to so much those who weren’t like me or didn’t think like me or looked different than I did. I had this almost immediate judgemental attitude toward them and that is the difference that the love of God and the grace of love and compassion can do for someone. It really opens your eyes to all of the people around you and how to have compassion for them.
Everybody’s got a different life story. Every person is carrying their own cross. They’ve got issues at their homes, for example, maybe they’ve got relationship issues or their children are addicts or they’re suffering with their own addictions….porn, gambling, alcohol, drugs, men or women—promiscuity. Maybe it’s neighbors that they have issues with or finances or they’re trying to find a job or they’re struggling with an illness or problems that are out of their control that they just are at a loss. Everybody, everybody is searching for something more out there and the lesson in this Gospel is throw it all away—those rules that are just rules. It doesn’t matter if you’ve eaten something that is on a “do not eat list” in your religion—that is what Jesus is saying.
And I tend to agree and that your salvation shouldn’t depend on whether your cup is clean or that you wash your hands before you eat. Although it’s always a good idea to do that no matter what the situation is, but not contingent for your salvation. So throughout the New Testament, you see Jesus out there trying to perform miracles on the Sabbath, and the rule is you don’t do anything on the Sabbath, not even heal someone.
Jesus is trying to say, “Are you kidding me? I’m not going to heal this guy because it’s the Sabbath?” I mean you’re missing the whole point of the commandments that God sent down for us all to follow. Jesus is going to heal this man on the Sabbath and says to the Jews, if your oxen was thirsty or fell down a well, you would get it out of that well on the Sabbath. That’s the message that Jesus is send in this Gospel.
It has nothing to do with how clean your hands are, how clean your utensils, cups, beds are around you. It’s how clean your heart is. How do you treat others? What do you say about others? How do you live your faith?
And this is where I go into the business world. I think people are scared to death to talk about faith in the workplace. It shouldn’t be whacking people over the head with a Bible and whipping out Bible verses and arguing about religious beliefs.
It comes down to you, as a faith-filled Christian, to live your faith at the office. That means be a leader. Don’t be the one talking about Joe behind his back. Don’t be the one starting the gossip. Be accepting of your peers and the people on your team and the people that you work for—every body is different, but they’re all children of God. They are all beloved children of God and so are you, and you have your own faults and your weaknesses and your own fears just like everybody else. That’s why we as Christians in the business world need to lead with compassion and treat people the way that God commands us to treat people, which is to love your neighbor as I love you. There is no greater love in the world than from Jesus, Our Savior. He knows purified love and I now know compassion, love, peace, joy that I’ve never had in my entire life and I used to think I had happiness and joy. Not so much the peace though because I was just filled with anxiety, worry and stressed out all the time. So I didn’t really have that “peace” going on. But compassion—I thought I was compassionate. I thought….I really liked people and I was a good caring person—but not so much.
So this week and every day, every hour you, you, you, you, I’m asking you to think about what you say. Think about how you act and how you treat other people. If you’re just about to say something bad about that person, whether you work with them, in your personal life, a family member—STOP, hold back. Ask God to give you more compassion and love because how you act is more important than that biblical religious armor in your head. How many Bible verses do I know? It’s all about how you live as a Christian.
Do you love everybody?
Because when you do, people will see it. People will migrate toward it. People will want it, so please do not be afraid to live your faith, especially at work. It’s necessary there so much, so lead with compassion and remember what comes out of your mouth, how you act, and how you speak is what defiles you, not what you eat off of and what you put in your mouth.
So let’s practice that this week. Well, not just this week, quite frankly, it’s the number two commandment—we have to do it—always. Love thy neighbor as thyself, and that means everybody. It’s not easy. But I’ll tell you, if you start praying to God, and ask him to give you the love and forgiveness to treat people with compassion and the love that he treats you with, you’ll be amazed at what he’ll do for you.
Have a blessed and inspired week. I will talk to you next Monday. Take care.