Monday, August 27, 2012

Cleanse the Inside

Cleanse the Inside

August 28, 2012

Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

By Beth DeCristofaro

"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."  (Matthew 23:25-26)


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.  (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)


As I write this, I am at the beach, listening to the curling waves washing up onto shore and squinting out at sparkling whitecaps.  Many of us find ourselves close to God at the ocean:  the majesty of creation, the mystery of the depths spread out before us, the power at hand remind us of the Lord of all Life.  I am also aware, today, of the appearance of the ocean farther south and in the gulf as hurricane Isaac churns toward the coast.  There one might be reminded of God’s overwhelming-ness which can be frightening:  let go and let God is sometimes easier said than done!   Jesus alludes to this in his address to the Pharisees:  we are God’s, we cannot circumvent God.

My prayers today are most likely a bit different than people in Florida or Gulfport.  I walked this morning praying my gratitude and asking for God’s presence with those I love or who are in need of prayer.  And I prayed my concern for those in Isaac’s path including my daughter in New Orleans.  Others more affected are probably praying in fear or dread.  What is amazing and humbling is that God is with me, with Sarah, with those others in just the way each of us needs.  God offers what gifts we need.  Are our vessels clean, attentive, receptive to those gifts?


As I read the words from Matthew I feel sad, much like I did as a child when my mother or father was upset with me.  It is hard to imagine Jesus looking at me saying:  “Your self-indulgence does not allow me in, Beth.”  Or worse:  “As you judge others, Beth, you plunder their right to be recognized and loved as my beloved sister/brother.”  Keeping our souls, minds and bodies unsullied and uncluttered enough to house the Lord takes diligence.  St. Augustine knew this and struggled not to give in to God’s awesome presence which he probably thought of as overwhelming.  Today what do I need to clean up inside myself in order to welcome God more fully and completely in?

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