"fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly" is the list of 12 evils that come from the heart, which Jesus provides to his disciples today. This list is given in explanation of Jesus' strong dressing-down of the Pharisees, who criticize the disciples, and through them Jesus, for not ritually washing their hands, and foods, and dishes, prior to eating. Jesus, in turn, tells them they are full of whoeey, as they allow parents to be disregarded, in violation of God's commandments, as well as "many things like this."
Jesus outrages the leaders further by saying anything, all foods, are clean and should be eaten as gifts from God. Jesus is breaking apart the rigid controls set in place by the leaders of Temple society over the generations. Rules, laid upon rules, which grew to occupy life, as opposed to paying attention to that which is really important is the focus of Jesus' attention in this passage. Rules can help govern, but they can also (and often are) used to circumvent things we ought to be doing.
Jesus' list of 12 evils emanating from within us is his response to these rules that don't address these baser instincts that can live within us. By paying attention to, and making all efforts not to violate these 12, we can all live without nano-second-controlling rules and regulations. Instead, we can be free and imaginative in creating the Kingdom Jesus proclaims. Difficult, but not impossible.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: DC Garden-Terrace. 2011.