|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rainbow Vacuum Up Our Sins
Many years ago, when I was a child, I remember my Mom got a brand-new vacuum cleaner; it was the latest and greatest in American technology, the Rainbow vacuum cleaner. It was a vacuum cleaner that did not use a bag; it used water to filter the dirt! Most times I would clean the whole house with one pot of clean water. One had to put fresh water each time. One could tell how dirty anything by the state of the water collected.
Once a year we would clean all the rooms in the house, Spring Cleaning. We ran a Bed and Breakfast Guest House, with 14 bedrooms. This annual cleaning was really hard work. We would pull out the bed, vacuum underneath the bed and in behind it, pull out the wardrobe, vacuum in behind the wardrobe; pull out the chair and vacuum, vacuum behind the chair.
I always remember how black the water would get with just one room, never mind the whole house. One room would make the water black, which meant all that dust and dirt was lurking underneath the bed, all just sitting there waiting. It always looked clean but the water told the real truth.
Lent is our Spring Cleaning. From the outside, it appears that none of us are doing anything terribly wrong. But when we wash ourselves in the waters of Baptism once again, we can tell our sins needed cleaning. We pull out the bed, the sofa and chairs of our lives, and we clean in behind and underneath all the parts of our life. That is what Lent is about.
This cleaning of our lives is the process of Lent. It is a journey that takes a lot of hard work, a lot of soul searching and the willingness to pull and move things around in our life so that we can be honest and reflective in our lives.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus cleans the temple by turning over the tables and telling them not to make his Father’s house a marketplace. What tables in our lives would the Lord turn over? Today the journey of Lent gets a little more serious. There may be things that we not only need to move and clean the dust (sinfulness) behind but there may be things we must uproot and throw out of our lives completely. Is there something in our life that we need to just get rid of altogether? For every one of us, it might be something different. We must be honest and willing to spend some time in prayer and listen to what God is calling us to clean out of our lives, to clean out of his temple of his spirit in our bodies, our minds and our souls.
Just like cleaning that house, Lent is hard work that we commit to by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Today, we continue our journey of Lent and see what tables the Lord is asking us to turn over; what sofas, and beds and chairs are we to move in our life so the Lord can vacuum all of our sins through the waters of Baptism.