Forbidden fruit or forbidden desire?

There is an interesting interplay in the first reading and the gospel for today.  In Genesis 2, we find that Adam is commanded not to eat the fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Yet in the gospel readings we hear Jesus say:

Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.

It seems like these two readings have been connected purposefully in the liturgical readings.  This connection is as if to say that it wasn’t anything inherently in the fruit that made humankind’s eating it sinful.  Rather, it was some wicked desire that lay within that caused the problem.  Perhaps it was arrogance as I have seen or heard suggested a number of times

Do you focus too much on externals while there is something in your heart that is sinful? Perhaps we are can refrain for a time from some external action that is sinful; however, if we do not deal with the sinful desires that lie within, eventually we will give in to temptation.


About Jeremy

I work at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, LA. I teach part-time classes from time to time, through Loyola University in New Orleans, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and St. Joseph's Abbey and Seminary College. I also just finished a doctoral degree in Biblical languages through the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
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