“What comes out of a person — that defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.”
“Pay attention to what you hear …”
In the list of things that defile us – ritually and otherwise (for ritual purity is the topic d’jour in the context of this Bible passage) – they all start and end with “evil thoughts.” The root of all evil isn’t money, it’s your thoughts.
Over the years, I have quoted my father who reminded us that “You can’t stop the seagulls from flying overhead, but you can keep them from sitting on your shoulder and making a nest.” In other words, you can’t control your thoughts, but you can control your thinks. However, I’ve come to understand that although you really can’t control your thoughts, you can control what you feed your Heart, Mind, and Soul by “paying attention to what you hear,” or more to the point, by what you listen to or watch. Carefully monitor and control what “goes in,” and you will begin to throttle back your impure thoughts.
Our culture appears to highly value three things: (1) Sexuality and all that goes with that; (2) Stuff, AKA consumerism; and (3) Self, our personal preferences, desires, and proclivities.
As we watch TV, movies, listen to advertising, and dwell on our “self,” then we feed our Hearts, Minds, and Souls with the fertilizer (the caca) of our culture rather than the bread of life.
Feed your Heart, Mind, and Soul the bread of life, stop filling it with culture’s caca, and the evil thoughts will have little more than biology to feed on. Sure, the evil thoughts will still “fly over” now and again – even monastics have to contend with sex, stuff, and self – but your impure thoughts will become more and more rare.
Lord, fill our Hearts, Minds, and Souls with the good things of you. Nourish us on the bread of life. Help us to pay more attention to what we feed our inner selves so that we may find purity of heart.