Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that says, Think Peace. I like the one that says, Forget peace. Think about using your left turn signal!
These bumper stickers remind us of a most basic psychological law. Marcus Aurelius Antonius said, "Our life is what our thoughts make it." James Allen stated, "You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you."
In today’s gospel Jesus tells us that "wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart." If wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart, then just and loving designs come from there too. Today’s gospel can be complimented with St. Paul’s words to the Philippians, "Whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."(Philippians 4:8) If more and more people follow this advice, then our world will have solid hope for peace. As the Constitution of the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (1946) reminds us, "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."
There is a transforming power in our thoughts. Thoughts focus our attention. Thoughts place a goal before our eyes. Thoughts mobilize our energy. After that, our bodies and emotions spring into action. Yes, as the bumper sticker declares, if we think peace, we will get peace. If we think war, we will get war. If we envision ourselves as a loving person, we will become a loving person. If we think angry thoughts, we will become an angry person. Garbage in, garbage out. Diamonds in, diamonds out. The choice is ours.
So we humbly welcome the Word, as St. James tells us today, and dwell upon it. Then, as it takes root, the actions that follow will certainly fulfill the will of God.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.