Bread on the Trail: Making Room for God
Cleaning out garages is a metaphor for so much more. Cleaning out the house within is an even greater challenge.
We were created, and re-created in Christ, to become a dwelling place for God. We therefore need to make room for Him, to clear out the clutter which arises over the years and has the tendency to distract us from what really matters.
"God built heaven and earth to be the dwelling place of the human race. But He also built the human body and soul to make them his own abode, so that He might dwell therein and rest there as in a well kept house…" (Pseudo Macarius. 4th Century)
"The Spirit is the place of the saints and the saint is the place of the Spirit" (Basil of Caesaria)
It is a beautiful Sunday here in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I will soon attempt to clean my garage. As has been the case for many, many years and in several homes, I have put the task off for far too long. Sound familiar? I procrastinate both because it is an unpleasant experience and, in my case, because it involves sorting through boxes of materials, some of which contain disappointing and painful experiences out of my past. I would rather not revisit them. However, with the continued "encouragement" (I am being diplomatic) of my dear wife, I will finally undertake the task.
It will be, as it always is, cathartic. There is much that is "new" beginning in our life together. I know that unless I clear out what we have accumulated from the past, and make room, there will also be no place to hold what is needed for the next chapter. Cleaning out garages is a metaphor for so much more. Cleaning out the house within is an even greater challenge. However, failure to do so carries with it much more of a consequence. After all, the Christian vocation is always a call to make room for God.
We were created, and re-created in Christ, to become a dwelling place for God. We therefore need to make room for Him, to clear out the clutter which arises over the years and has the tendency to distract us from what really matters. We have so many helps, such as the examination of conscience and the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to assist us in the task. All of the resources of the Church are there to help us to fulfill our Baptismal vocation to live in God, for God and, with God, for the world.
The call to develop a life of prayer and dialogue with God in a communion of love is forever challenging. It requires our continual response to His continual invitations. It also entails "cleaning out the garage" at times, cleaning out the place within, where God wants to come and dwell. He deserves the best of quarters, emptied of anything that will compete with His residency.
Jesus told us that we are to be the "salt of the earth" (Mt. 5:13). He warned that salt can lose its savor. When it does, it no longer seasons or preserves. Our capacity to love God, and in Him, to love those around us, expands as we empty ourselves of the unnecessary "stuff" that we accumulate in this pilgrimage of life. This is part of the reason why confession and authentic repentance are so important if we hope to progress in an interior life and cultivate a vibrant relationship with the God who comes to dwell within.
Lethargy of soul or "luke-warmness" in the spiritual life, in the words of one of my favorite priest writers, Father Fernandez, "gives up at the slightest difficulty" and "makes mountains out of molehills". "Love for God, on the other hand" the good priest writes "makes a molehill out of the mountain."
When we clean out the house within, we make more room for the presence of God. He comes and lives within, transforming us by His Spirit and expanding our capacity to love. Let us make room for God.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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