Spiritual Spic 'n Span
by the Reverend Noel E. Bordador
Repent for the Kingdom of God has come near…Prepare the way of the Lord… (Matthew 3:2, 3b)
I must confess, I don’t like to clean house. I like a clean house, but I don’t like cleaning my house. I'd rather cook or do the laundry but to clean is not my thing. Yet, I do it begrudgingly especially when I have guests coming in. And guess what, it’s the holiday season and I might have some guests come and visit, and so I need to clean my home really well. But, I do cut corners, meaning, I only clean well those areas of the house that the guests would see. But I don’t let them see the inside of my closets where I basically toss every kind of thing and junk. I am scared that if they open my closet, there will be an avalanche. Do you have any part of your house which you do not let others see because they are either not so tidy or in such disarray?
Perhaps life is like that. Perhaps, our hearts and souls are like that. We let others see only the good in us, but there might be areas of our lives which we do not dare others see: perhaps the unhealed hurts we have accumulated over the years; or, the grudges and resentments we hold on to for just a bit too long; perhaps, those things about us that make us unloving or dishonest or deceitful; or things that make us feel insecure or perhaps ugly or unlovable; perhaps our fears of rejection and abandonment that make us distrust others so that we won’t open our hearts to them to experience love fully or deeply. But, they are there in us waiting to be healed. In fact, our “house” needs a lot more cleaning than we lead on. We can pretend that things are just fine when in fact, we have our own spiritual darkness and brokenness that we need to be cleansed from. But, who are we kidding? God knows that our spiritual house is not completely clean. God knows our spiritual house is not all that tidy.
The guest who would come to my house and who I fear the most is my mother. She would not be not like the other guests. She would be the first one to open my closet full of junk and expose me as one big slob. With her, there is no pretending. When she visits, she ends up cleaning my house, which is fine because she is at least better than me in cleaning my house.
Today, the Gospel has John the Baptist crying out: “Repent, for God’s Kingdom has come… prepare the way of the Lord.” To prepare means not pretending that we don’t need to get cleaned up. If we keep on pretending, then we will not “repent” that is, change for the better. We will not turn our lives for the good. Those things in us that make us less loving, and just and merciful will simply remain and clutter our spiritual lives. We will remain unhealed of the darkness that lurks in the corners of our hearts and soul.
To prepare also does not mean that you have to get everything cleaned up yourself, that you need to get everything in perfect order before you invite God to come into your hearts. Preparing simply means to open up our lives- our hearts and souls- and ask God to clean us up. Basically, we can’t completely clean ourselves. We need God to make a complete sweep of our house. To prepare is simply to let this one Guest- God- help you do spiritual housecleaning. So, today, simply stop pretending that we’re all good, let go of the desire for self-deception for only in letting go of this delusion can healing begin. Invite this Guest we call God into your hearts and ask him to cleanse you of those things in your life that makes you less honest and less loving. Let us pray:
God of truth, I come to you with a deep desire to be rid of all that keeps me from honesty, integrity and sincerity. I have allowed areas of my life to be ruled by non-truths. In these areas, my spirit has been opaque, hid in delusions, unfree, clouded with deceit, unable to have you shine through. Make of me a transparent spirit, a person through whom truth radiates and integrity in clearly seen. I pray to have an inner world which reflects your goodness…I ask for the grace to let go of the untruths of my life. Lead me into freedom and into strength which comes from living in truth and integrity.1 I also pray that I can accept the fact that I shall always have some flaws and shadows in my heart, that the search for integrity shall always be a dimension of my life. Remind me often that the core of who I am, that I am very good, that you love me as I am, while you long for me to be whole, honest and free. 2 [Amen.]
1 Joyce Rupp (1988), Praying Our Goodbyes, IN: Ave Maria Press, p. 157
2 Rupp, p. 158, 159
2011 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a gay Filipino priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
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