First Reading: Dt 4:1-2,6-8
Second Reading: Ja 1:17-18,21b-22,27
Gospel: Mk 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
If there is one thing that I have learned to appreciate since I started this journey last January, it is this: be responsible and accountable for my actions, and stop blaming others for my misery.
When I was wallowing in my dark place, I would be awash in jealousy over others who had more than I did, or anger at others that are preventing me from getting what I want. I never thought of blaming myself. I always thought I am not doing anything wrong.
Today’s Gospel is very personal to me, because it shows that the reason I got into my dark place was because of one person only: myself.
Jesus criticises the Pharisees for making doctrine the precepts of man; this means that they are twisting the teachings to satisfy their lifestyles and caprice. However, Jesus preaches that it does not matter how we appear outward, what matters is where our hearts lie. Our hearts should be able to discren from what is right and what is wrong. Anything worldly around us can only affect us if we allow it to. This means that we have the capacity to do good and ignore evil.
In my case, I ignored good. I indluged myself in excess. I stopped hearing mass. I stopped praying. I failed to do all of these because people around me lived a different philosophy. And I was impressionable enough that I followed their way of life even if I did not have the means to sustain it.
I was miserable, and I blamed others for my situation. I did not stop to think that I can rise above petty jealousy, and that instead of wondering why I didn’t enjoy the same perks of life, I should take action. I should be inspired. The same stimulus – a friend getting promoted, for example – can make us react either badly (jealousy) or positively (inspiration). We should allow our hearts to see the goodness in everything. Even in our problems, we should treat them as challenges to overcome, not burdens to endure.
God does not give us challenges to make us miserable; He gives us challenges to make us grow.
“Listen to me, all of you, and understand. There is nothing from outside a man which, by entering into him, is able to defile him. But the things which procede from a man, these are what pollute a man. (Mk 7:14b-15)”