Feeding From Within

September 2, 2018

It is clear in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus is challenging the people of that day and age as well as the present age to take responsibility.  Jesus addresses the Pharisees and then the whole crowd emphasizing that we can’t blame what is outside of us for our sinfulness, but only what comes from within.  A person susceptible to the overuse of alcohol or addiction to drugs or pornography cannot blame the companies that produce these things.  Sometimes we would like to blame social media or the internet.  Yet we are the ones turning on the device and getting connected.

In a time when accountability is important, we still see the blame game played out.  It is difficult to find truth.  Jesus tells us all the evil comes from within.  All of the seeds of sin are played out in our minds, and then they move into evil actions and sin.  It begins with self-awareness.  It begins with the recognition of temptation.  In the Our Father we pray “Lead us not into temptation.”  Temptation is a powerful force that clicks with the lack of a strong conscience within each individual and the choice of sin becomes a driving force in the life of an individual.

The great story that comes from Native Americans in the west is one about a young child longing to become a man.  In the right of passage the boy must go out into the wilderness to face demons and allow himself to find the direction of the Great Spirit.  As the child wrestles with this important adventure, he begins to dream of the great turmoil of a fight that goes on inside him every night.  The dreams awaken him in fear.  So he seeks the wisdom of his grandfather, a wise sage.  The elder of the tribe asks him what seems to be the trouble, why is there a lack of peace?  So the young boy begins to tell him his dream.  He describes how every night a black wolf is on the prowl and it seems to come recklessly in the woods. Its eyes are scary, it is stalking him and is ready to attack the young boy out on adventure.  Then from the other side of the woods comes a white wolf and it growls at the black wolf.  They face each other and they howl and tangle and the white wolf and black wolf fight and the fight gets so bloody and loud that it wakes the child up.  He looks into the eyes of the grandfather and says this dream reoccurs often and he doesn’t know what to do.  After he awakens and falls back to sleep, the wolves are gone.  The grandfather speaks to the youth by saying these are the two forces of power in his life.  Good and evil.  Good longs to protect you and the evil longs to bring pain and suffering and darkness to your life.  After taking a long walk, the child asks…Who wins the fight?  The wise sage looks at him eye to eye and says the fight will always be there, but the one who wins is the one you feed.

Jesus invites us to feed what is within us with grace and goodness.  The struggle will always be with us.  The fight will always go on, but the one who wins is the one we feed.  Live on goodness, live on grace.  Feed the goodness from within by prayer, meditation, devotions and Sacrament.  Fix your eyes on the goodness of others.

The struggle never goes away; feed on what is good.

Reverend John J. Ouper