Tuesday, January 8, 2013

“What goes into the mouth…”


Even though fasting is clearly documented in the Holy Scriptures,
some people still challenge this commandment of God. Often times the
words of our Lord “not what goes into the mouth, but what comes out
defiles man” are misused to claim that neither does God require us to fast,
nor is it a sin if someone chooses not to fast. Let us examine this Gospel
verse to see what exactly is recorded.
The scribes and Pharisees once asked our Lord: “Why do Your
disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their
hands when they eat bread” (Mt. 15:2).
This question evidently refers to why Christ’s disciples did not wash
their hands before eating. It makes no mention of fasting. Thus Christ
responded: “Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a
man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Mt. 15:11).
That is to say, even if the food or our hands are not perfectly clean and we
consume foreign particles, this will not render us sinful before God. Why?
Because “whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is
Evil desires, however, which are contrary to the law of God, which
originate from within man, and which man externalizes, are what render
man sinful before God. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These
are the things that defile a man. But to eat with unwashed hands,”
underlines the Lord, “does not defile a man” (Mt. 15:18-19).
It is thus evident that Christ’s statement that “what goes into the
mouth does not defile man” is in no way related to nor negates the
commandment of fasting.
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