Mark 7:20

“It is what comes out from a person,” he added, “that defiles them,


intended or no
it’s what comes out
that reveals

consequences speak clearly
regarding assumptions
choices and decisions

a world of trust
in this or that
must face its shadow

even abiding vision
lowers its eyes in shame
faced by persistent persecution

only love prevails
when faith and hope fail
in its hold we sail


This verse could indicate Mark’s handwriting was a bit sloppy and the copyist misread whatever Mark’s proofreader’s mark was to “delete”, on the last phrase of 7:19, for “restore deletion”.

The reader has a choice of where to focus this verse. Does it continue a separate explanation for the disciples (simply ignore the 7:19b kerfuffle)? Does it continue Jesus’ work with the crowd (simply pick up from 7:15)?

Whichever, we can also look at the whole “in—out” model.

It is easy to bring forth an argument opposite of an opponent. If they say “Up”, we say “Down”; their “Wrong”, is our “Right”. This runs into the same difficulty as we are having in one of the latest identity questions regarding sexual variances—a limited binary view doesn’t accord well with the actual experiences of life. This gets us into a number of difficulties that the Platonic view of Mark’s time (and still) has with “Ideal” and “Image”, “Soul” and “Flesh, with an either/or approach in a time of multiverses, string theories, and other observable phenomenon beyond the surface of our senses.

Together, 7:18 and 7:20 say the world or creation around us does not contaminate us, but it stands in danger from our contaminating our context. This is a more general statement than a simple elimination of a purity code. Now we have to wrestle with what it means that boundaries are porous, anyone and anything can enter our presence without making all of us automatically unclean. All the usual outcasts can be welcomed as we struggle with mutual hospitality in a world too easily swayed or controlled by techniques intended to set one part of the body against another part so those in power might remain so or those desiring such power might gain it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *