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Cleaning Out My Soul

August 25, 2020   Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 426)

Reading 1   2 THES 2:1-3A, 14-17

We ask you, brothers and sisters,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling with him,
not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly,
or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Let no one deceive you in any way.

To this end he has also called you through our Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm
and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught,
either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them
in every good deed and word.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 96:10, 11-12, 13

R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Say among the nations: The Lord is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the Lord, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Alleluia HEBREWS 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   MT 23:23-26

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”

By Lauren Goodwin 

Today, Christ does not speak lightly. He calls the Pharisees and Scribes blind not once, but twice. Knowing the actions of the Pharisees throughout the Gospel--like their efforts to trick Jesus into breaking the law--it easy to agree with Jesus’ judgement of them without looking inward. I found myself doing this. I was judging the Pharisees, acknowledging them as hypocrites, and allowing myself to move on without reflecting on how I may be blind myself.

It is clear that Jesus’ words at the end of the Gospel were not just meant for the Pharisees of His time. He says, “You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

In these words, I hear Jesus’ calling me to a greater way of living--one that is less about myself, about judgement of others, and more about Christ himself.

This passage humbled me. I began with a judgement myself, and ended with the realization that I was just as blind as those I was judging. Today’s Gospel is reminiscent of Matthew 7:5, when Christ tells us to remove the wooden beam from our own eye before removing the splinter from someone else’s. However, this time, Christ is calling for a more radical transformation. One that rids itself of all “plunder and self-indulgence.”

Reading Jesus’ call to cleanse the inside of my cup is intimidating.

How exactly am I supposed to do this? When will I know when I am actually “clean?” Fortunately, the Church gives us the first reading, reminding me that I do not have to go through this radical transformation alone. St. Paul says, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father... encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”

I know I am not alone in this lifelong cleaning of the inside of my cup. It is only through Christ that I can truly strengthen my heart and soul enough so that the “outside may be clean.”  It is a journey that may never be fully completed, but I am satisfied in knowing that although I may always be a work-in-progress, Christ is there for everlasting encouragement.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Goodwin is a current student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC where she combines her two passions of faith and literature in her studies. She has a great love for the Gospel and education and hopes to be a Theology or English teacher one day. You can often find her reading the classics or driving around DC with her roommates. In 2018, she published her collection of personal essays titled What What What. You can find more about her here

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