House cleaning

Published March 7, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP


Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P.

Many people get easily exhausted just by the thought of house cleaning. They put it off for as long as possible until their house becomes so filthy that whenever they come home, the stench and the chaos make them cringe and squirm. Add to this the clutter—junk, furniture, gadgets, decorations, equipment, and personal items thatare no longer useful.No wonder, many people have disorderly and purposeless lives. We shape our homes, then our homes shape us.

A cluttered house is difficult to clean. The more fixtures we acquire, the greater the dirt we need to scour. But where does all this clutter come from? The answer is best expressed by one movie character who says with a sigh: “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”

Buying things has become a status symbol of sorts. Worse, we usually end up buying things we don’t intend to purchase. Do you want a smartphone? You’ll end up paying for new accessories because the smartphone is designed NOT to work without them. Modern advertisers no longer just sell things to satisfy our wants. They create new needs until we no longer know what is truly necessary and important. Burt Bacharach’s song describes our common predicament:

“Tell me how long must I keep wanting things, needing things, when I have so much. There are many men who have much less than me,
Day by day they make their way. And they find more in life than I can see.”

            House cleaning is a rewarding experience. It helps us develop the ability to let go. Let’s face it, the older we get, the harder it is for us to throw away things. Cleaning the house helps us find the courage to also declutter our lives. As we scrub away the stain and the slime in the kitchen sink, we gain the strength torenouncetoxic relationships that demean us and the false beliefs, opinions, judgments, and assumptions that blur our vision.

However, letting go must be balanced by holding on to the really important things in our life. Decluttering do not only mean finding the courage to simplify our life; it also strengthens our grip on those things that are truly valuable and fulfilling.

The Gospel reading today teaches us precisely that. Jesus fiery anger in driving out the merchants and money changers from the temple is fueled by His burning desire to weed out anything that usurps our devotion to God. For, if God is not at the center of our hearts, then something else is.The story of the cleansing of the temple invites us to do a spiritual house-cleaning, to identify themental and emotional trash, as well the spiritual dirt (our favorite sins) that we have allowed to build up in our soul. While letting go of all these poisons in our life, we hold on to what increases our self-worth as Christians.

Going to confession is the most effective Lenten practice that will help us clean and declutter our lives during this Lenten season. By humbly asking for God’s forgiveness, we allow Him to make our body and soul his temple.

Many people think going to confession is not practical. But if you are indeed a practical person, ask yourself this question, “What do I have to lose when I do it?” The answer is: You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. But if we claim we have not sinned, we make God a liar and His word has no place in our lives” (I John 1:9-10).