16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:16-20)
Jesus contrasts what goes into the mouth and out of the body with what goes into the heart and comes out of the mouth.
Is Jesus making a joke – a sort of “vomiting from the heart” in describing all these things?
Where do these things originate that “infect” the heart?
I can’t escape the (admittedly) unpleasant imagery which I think Jesus intended. If we eat “unclean” things, it passed out the other end… if we have “uncleanness” in our hearts, we end up vomiting that unpleasantness out of our mouths. Perhaps it isn’t what Jesus meant.. but it sure strikes close to where I live.
Oh to have a heart free of such nastiness… free of the vileness that spews forth at times. It seems, too, that Jesus is speaking to those who fret over other’s uncleanness. Worried about those people eating with unwashed hands? How about the garbage coming out of you?
O Lord, as David prayed long ago, create in me a clean heart. May I worry not about what others do that seems unclean to me – may I worry instead about what is in my heart, about what I ingest that defiles me and comes out as surely as the food I eat will. In the name of the one who sees my heart, who knows what is truly clean and not, Jesus, I pray. Amen.