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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Reflecting on Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Whenever I hear this challenging gospel I think of the 2001 movie, A Beautiful Mind. It tells the shocking story of John Nash, Nobel Laureate in Economics, whose life is filled with interesting, companionable, sometimes frightening, but always utterly imagined friends. He is deeply schizophrenic, and we don’t realize that until certain revelations throughout the movie cause us to question who in his life actually exists.

He finally has victory over his illness by training his mind to ignore his hallucinations. Whenever he encounters his “friends,” he forces himself to ignore them. This is how I feel about Jesus’ admonition that those who harbor evil thoughts, as well as a number of deadly sins, are defiled. It’s what we’re thinking about on the inside that corrupts us and makes us sad. I try to train my brain to forgive the irritating behaviors of people around me, as they forgive my own.

Think about gossip. Isn’t it delicious to hear something unsavory or scandalous about someone? It’s especially precious if it’s about someone we know, and even better if it’s about someone who has, in the tiniest ways, hurt our feelings at some point in the past. Then—yippee!—we hear something uncharitable about them, and we start marinating that news over and over in our hearts. We ruminate and luxuriate in it, and, soon enough, we are defiled with the spiciness of sweet revenge.

And it is sweet, for a minute. But in the end it makes us less. I want what’s going on in my brain to match the person I present to the world, especially since that’s the brain that asks for Jesus’ mercy every day.

What uncharitable thoughts are you training your brain to ignore?

Kathy McGovern ©2021

Ordinary Time - Cycle B

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