All food is clean (Mk 7:19-7:19)

“Food enters,

Not the heart

But the stomach.

Then it goes out

Into the sewer.’

Thus,

Jesus declared

All foods clean.”

 

ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται, καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα;

 

Mark was extremely descriptive here just as Matthew, chapter 15:17, explained this problem about unclean food.  Mark indicated that Jesus seemed a little upset that they still did not understand what he was telling them about defilement.  Jesus said that any food did not enter the heart (ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν), but the stomach or belly (ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν).  From the stomach, it flowed out in a bowel movement that ended up in a sewer, latrine, or dung heap (καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται).  There was a famous saying that it is harder to sell corn after it has been eaten by a pig than before it was eaten.  Whatever went into your mouth would end up in a defecation anyway.  Thus, Jesus declared that all kinds of foods were cleansed or made clean (καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα).  This would have been a major rejection of Jewish Torah law and the use of kosher food, since there was a major distinction between clean and unclean foods.  This saying of Mark about no more unclean foods was not in Matthew who was writing to a Jewish Christian audience, but it is here for this gentile Christian audience.  Luke omitted the whole question.

What defiles a person? (Mk 7:15-7:15)

“There is nothing

Outside a person

That by going in

Can defile.

But the things

That come out

Are what defiles.”

 

οὐδέν ἐστιν ἔξωθεν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς αὐτὸν ὃ δύναται κοινῶσαι αὐτόν· ἀλλὰ τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκπορευόμενά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:11.  Mark indicated that Jesus went back to the problem of impurity, unclean or defiled people.  Thus, spiritual purity was more important than physical purity.  Jesus said that that there was nothing from the outside of a person (οὐδέν ἐστιν ἔξωθεν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) that could enter into him that was able to defile him (εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς αὐτὸν ὃ δύναται κοινῶσαι αὐτόν).  Rather, it is what comes out bursting forth from a person (ἀλλὰ τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκπορευόμενά) that defiles, pollutes or makes a man or person unclean (ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  It is not what you put into your mouth that makes you unclean, it is what comes out of your mouth that makes you unclean or defiled.

The mouth and defilement (Mt 15:11-15:11)

“It is not what goes

Into the mouth

That defiles a person.

But what comes out

Of the mouth

That defiles a person.”

 

οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:15.  Jesus, via Matthew, went back to the problem of impurity, unclean or defiled people.  Thus, spiritual purity was more important that physical purity.  It is not what you put into or what enters into your mouth (οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα), such as unclean food, that pollutes or defiles a man or a person (κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  Rather, what comes out of your mouth (ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο), such as words, that defile, pollute or make a man or person unclean (κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  It is not what you put into your mouth that makes you unclean, it is what comes out of your mouth that makes you unclean or defiled.

Silence is good (Lam 3:28-3:30)

Yod

“It is good

To sit alone

In silence,

When Yahweh

Has imposed it.

It is good

To put

One’s mouth

To the dust.

There may yet be hope.

It is good

To give one’s cheek

To the one who

Strikes you.

It is good

To be filled

With insults.”

Now this author says that is good to sit alone waiting in silence for Yahweh. It is also good to put your mouth to the dust, indicating that one has hope for the future. You should also give your cheek to the one who is hitting you, an idea mentioned later in the Christian gospels. Finally it is good to accept insults. Here there is an important element of silence, self control, and humility.   These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod in this acrostic poem.

False tongue (Sir 28:22-28:26)

“A false tongue

Has no power

Over the godly.

They will not be burned

In its flame.

Whoever forsakes the Lord

Will fall into its power.

It will burn among them.

It will not be put out.

It will be sent out against them

Like a lion.

Like a leopard,

It will mangle them.

As you fence in your property

With thorns,

So make a door.

Make a bolt

For your mouth.

As you lock up your silver,

So make balances

For your words.

As you lock up your gold,

So make scales

For your words.

Take care!

Do not err

With your tongue.

Otherwise you will fall victim

To one lying in wait.”

Sirach says that this false tongue does not have any power over the godly. They will not be burned by its flames. However, those who forsake the Lord will fall under the power of these false tongues. The fire will burn in them so that they will not be able to put out this fire. They will feel like they are being attacked by a lion or mauled by a leopard. You need to put a door and a bolt on your mouth just as you fence in your property with thorn bushes to keep you from false speech. You should weigh what you say and balance your words, just as you protect your silver and gold. Do not make mistakes with your tongue by falling victim to those who are waiting to catch you.

Quarrels (Sir 28:8-28:12)

“Refrain from strife.

Your sins will be fewer.

The hot tempered kindle strife.

The sinner disrupts friendships.

The sinner sows discord

Among those who are at peace.

In proportion to the fuel,

So will the fire burn.

In proportion to the obstinacy,

So will strife increase.

In proportion to a person’s strength,

So will be his anger.

In proportion to his wealth,

So he will increase his wrath.

A hasty quarrel kindles a fire.

A hasty dispute sheds blood.

If you blow on a spark,

It will glow.

If you spit on it,

It will be put out.

Yet both come out of your mouth.”

Sirach reminds us of the problems with quarrels and arguments. If you refrain from conflicts, your sins will be less. Usually it is the hot tempered people who start disputes. Sinners disrupt friendships. They sow discord among peacemakers. Then Sirach has a number of proportional examples. The more fuel you have, the more the fire burns. The more stubborn you are, the more disagreements you create. The stronger you are, the more you will be angry. The more wealth that you have, the more fury you will have. Sometimes it is a hasty quarrel that starts a fire that leads to bloodshed. However, you have control with your mouth. You can either blow on the spark to increase the flame or spit on the spark to put it out. The choice is yours, spit or blow on the spark of a fire to increase or decrease the argument.

Friendship (Sir 22:19-22:22)

“Whoever pricks an eye

Brings tears.

Whoever pricks the heart

Makes clear its feelings.

Whoever throws a stone at birds

Scares them away.

Whoever reviles a friend

Destroys a friendship.

Even if you have drawn your sword

Against a friend,

Do not despair.

There is a way back.

If you have opened your mouth

Against your friend,

Do not worry.

Reconciliation is possible.

But your friend will flee

If you have been reviling,

If you have been arrogant,

If you have disclosed his secrets,

If you have dealt a treacherous blow.”

Friendship is tricky. Certain things follow naturally. If you prick your eye you will get a tear in your eye. If you touch someone’s heart, you make your feelings known. If you throw stones at birds, they will scatter. If you revile a friend with abusive language, you will destroy that friendship. If you have drawn a sword or opened your mouth against a friend, don’t despair. There is still a chance for this friendship to be reconciled. However, your friend will leave you if you use abusive arrogant language, disclose their secrets, or try to kill them. These actions are show stoppers. The friendship will die. Your friend will go away and not come back.