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Housecleaning

Sometime last week, on our way to Batangas, I told my driver: “Mag   rosary tayo.” To my surprise, he made a sudden U-turn and brought me to the grocery!

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In today’s Gospel (Jn. 2, 13-22), Jesus cleansed the temple area of vendors and money-changers, and in anger declared: “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” All too

often, our devotion to God and our practice of religion are cluttered with and adulterated by money and money matters, and like the anecdote I mentioned, we easily confuse “rosary” with “grocery.”

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One very special aspect of housekeeping is that of housecleaning. In our effort to build or improve a house, we often end up with a lot of unnecessary and useless stuff which in fact, make it ugly and burdensome. Let us always be humble and honest in our relationship with God, give unto Him what rightfully belongs to Him, and stop using His name for our personal, selfish agenda.

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Speaking of housecleaning, many of us would do well to look into our hearts and dispose of many unnecessary and burdensome sins, bad habits, and negative thoughts and feelings. Life is short. Time spent on negative thoughts and deeds is wasted time. A good confession is always a good starting point. When was the last time you made a good confession? When was the last time you made a resolve to confess your sins, do penance and amend your life?

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Still on housecleaning, with Christmas just around the corner, let us take time to get rid of “excess baggage.” No matter how much we rationalize (and we are good at it!), we cannot justify our holding on to so much when a lot of people around us have so little or nothing at all. Please share, and share generously until it hurts, and hurts no more. Remember, we are only stewards, and we are accountable to God in the use and disposal of our time, talents and treasures. Indeed, to whom much is given, much is required.

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In my retreat with the Baguio clergy last week, I challenged my brother priests to take out their wallets and show the contents to each other. Many were caught off guard by the spontaneous activity, which elicited nervous smiles and laughter. I let it go at that, but 72-year-old Father David showed the whole group what he carried in his

wallet. He had P500, his senior citizen card, ID card, discount cards, some receipts, and some old photos of himself. We were all very edified by his transparency, simplicity and poverty. He did not have much, and maybe because he did not have much, he stood out in the group as someone with such a light and bright disposition. What an inspiration!

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Another inspiration was 50-year-old Fr. Benny Villapa, a confessed alcoholic who has gone through rehabilitation and is now living one day at a time, staying sober with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and acknowledging our need of and dependence on a greater power to heal us of our addictions. What an honest person. He admitted to how he has been cleansed of his dependence on alcohol, how he has hit rock bottom, and how important it is to continuously do “housecleaning” following the 12 steps of AA every single day.

Candidly, he said he thought alcohol could drown his sorrows, frustrations, stress, pressures and inner issues. “No, they are good swimmers!” he said in jest. Amen to that!

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Many things fall into place when we slow down, keep still, and really listen to God in prayer. God’s voice is inaudible because of too much noise inside and outside us. At any moment in our lives, let us be open to the whisperings and stirrings of the Divine, and let us be sensitive to God’s direction and prodding. Come, Holy Spirit!

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There was a beautiful moon last week, but maybe many of us did not even notice it, or cared to appreciate it. Up in Bukal ng Tipan in Maryhill, Taytay, the view of Manila by night was so beautiful and peaceful! I even saw shooting stars and fireflies, which I have not seen for a long time. Often, it is when we let go, and keep a distance, that true peace sets in. “Distancia, amigo”—there is a lot of wisdom in this reminder for drivers. It is a very good reminder for all of us in our journey through life.

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There is a lot of housecleaning to be done in the legislative chambers of our government. Maybe the Lord should come one time and cleanse both chambers—of thieves, money-makers, and money-changers! If only we could! We should! But how? The challenge goes to the executive and judicial branches of our government, and the Church, too, and to the very heart of each one of us. Yes, cleanse our hearts, oh, God!

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It has been a year since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck, claimed many lives, and did much damage to the properties of our brothers and sisters. A lot has been said and done, but still we ask: What lessons have we learned as individuals, as a family, as a nation, as a people? To paraphrase the lines of a song: “When will we ever learn? Oh, when will we ever learn?”

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Maybe the Lord is telling us today, “Just be still before Me. Put Me first in your heart that is already full—full of the things of this world. I can only fill empty, waiting vessels. Do not let the world crowd Me out of My rightful place.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Cleanse our hearts, oh, God, of whatever is not pleasing to You. Amen.

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