Tuesday, October 22, 2013
“What goes in to the mouth...” ( Saint Nektarios )
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 eliminated.”
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.