Saint Louis (Optional Memorial)
Cleanse first the inside of the cup. (Matthew 23:26)
Like the cup Jesus speaks of here, our hearts are meant to be receptacles that we allow God to fill and that we then pour into the lives of other people. Sometimes, though, our hearts may feel more like Molly McGee’s closet, packed with junk that bursts forth at the slightest touch. All the fears, anger, resentment, inordinate loves, and other rubbish stored there mean less room for God’s love and life, less overflow to others.
Whether it’s a chaotic closet or an unwashed cup, the remedy is the same: make it clean and usable. Face the grime squarely, and deal with it. Discard the junk. Scour the cup. Take inventory of what’s in your heart, and trust in the Father’s love for you.
As you engage in this cleaning operation, remember that Jesus’ sharp words to the Pharisees were as much impassioned pleas as angry denunciations. God is kind, gentle, and always ready to help you. Remind yourself of that truth frequently: I am making more room for God’s love in my life.
So let the Holy Spirit shine the light of Christ in your heart and show you what’s cluttering it up. When you pinpoint sin, admit it. Go to Confession and let the priest help you scour your cup as he pronounces the words of absolution. But also be sure that as you do your penance, you let God tell you what he thinks of you: that he loves you passionately; that you are his child, and he holds you next to his heart always; and that you bring him joy.
Remember too that condemnation is not a part of Jesus’ message here. Nor is he minimizing the importance of our outward observances. Jesus is encouraging us to make room for more of him while we continue to do the other things as well. More room in your life for God’s love, a heart better able to fulfill God’s purposes for it—this is good news! Whether you are a missionary in a remote country or a catechist in your suburban parish, you are first a vessel, made to hold and to pour out God’s life and love on others.
“Jesus, I want more of you in my heart today!”
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne