Study: What needs to be cleaned up in your life? What “messes” require care and attention?
Pray: Invite the Lord into your heart and ask him for the grace and strength to cast out what does not belong.
Serve: How can you help someone clean up a part of their life?
Pastoral Note: The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent provide an option for using the “Year A” readings at Mass for the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process, but for those who follow the usual cycle (this year it is “Year B”) the reflection is offered below.
About this time of year I start getting the itch to dig and clean out old items around the house. I start in those areas where things usually pile up, namely – CLOSETS! (You know, those places where we throw things that we are not sure if we need…)
I pull them out and ask a simple question, “Have I touched this in the last two years? Have I needed it, used it, thought about it? Or can I get rid of it?”
Sometimes we hold on to items (clothes for example) that we simply do not need. We do not use them, and they occupy and clutter space that takes away from other things. Since I am not generally a pack rat, I find this time of year refreshing; it is a way that I can simplify my life and focus on what I think is important.
In John’s Gospel we see Jesus doing his sort of house cleaning. Entering into the temple with a whip of cords, he systematically drives out those who are treating the temple like a marketplace. It is a rare glimpse of the Lord’s anger, and it reminds us of his passion and zeal for the House of God.
Yet we are reminded that buildings are not the only temples where God resides. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” If the Lord was willing to drive out inappropriate behavior from the temple in Jerusalem, what will he drive out when he enters the temple of our hearts?
To help us, God provided the Commandments – that we might avoid the very things that harm us. The first reading today proclaims these commandments, reminding us that God has provided a path to help us on our journey through life. What’s more, these commandments reveal with swift clarity what is does not belong; they point out the very sins that can keep us from the Lord and one another.
In our moments of honesty we know that there are elements that need to be cast out. Sin is a part of our human condition, and all of us have fallen short of God’s grace in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We know that if the Lord were to come into our hearts he would discover secrets and fears that keep us from God and one another.
The point, however, is that God has come! The Lord Jesus, through his death and resurrection, comes through the Holy Spirit into our world. His victory over sin and death give us hope that we may have eternal life. We need not fear the darkness in our hearts; we can offer it to the light of Christ.
The Scriptures tell us that we are a temple. Experience tells us that within this temple there is sin. Yet faith tells us that not only will Jesus come driving out evil, but he will make a place to dwell there within our hearts. You see, it’s his house, too.
Note: This post was first published on March 2, 2015.