March 3 – Third Sunday of Lent

When I was a little kid, I would watch a show called The Big Comfy Couch, in which most of the adventures took place on the eponymous sofa. One of my favorite segments of the show was the “Ten Second Tidy.” At the end of the show, the characters would clean up the mess they made in ten seconds by comically shoving everything into the couch cushions. Of course, this show influenced how I cleaned as a child.

One day, as we were leaving a friend’s house, my mom said I had to clean up my mess really quickly before we left. “Ten second tidy?” I said. She nodded, probably thinking I meant that I would clean really fast. When we got back home, my mom received a phone call from my friend’s mom. “We can’t find our remote control. Do you have any idea where it might be?” She looked at me for a second and replied, “Have you checked your couch cushions?”

Even now as an adult, I still do not enjoy cleaning, and much of my “tidying” probably still resembles shoving everything out of sight into the couch cushions. During this Lent, we are called to do a kind of “spring cleaning” of our souls. But left to ourselves, our cleaning might look more like a “ten second tidy,” shoving problems out of sight rather than truly removing them from our lives. So how can we truly clean our souls?

In the Gospel, where Jesus makes a whip and drives all the money changers out of the Temple. What does that have to do with us? John gives us a clue: “But he was speaking about the temple of his body.” Jesus refers to His body as a Temple, and because we are joined to His Body through Baptism, St. Paul can call our bodies Temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).

We need to invite Jesus to cleanse the temples of our bodies and souls of any sin. We do this primarily through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but as we go to receive this sacrament during Lent, we should take Jesus as a model of the attitude we need to have toward sin. He doesn’t allow any of the money changers to remain in the Temple, but drives them completely out. In the same way, we cannot make any compromises with sin, but resolve to drive it completely out of our lives.

This driving out of the money changers isn’t without purpose. The Temple is a place of communion with God, and even more so the Temple of the Body of Christ. So we allow Jesus to cleanse the temples of our souls so that we can enter more deeply into communion with Him, especially through the Holy Eucharist. As we prepare for Easter, let’s remember that going to Confession shouldn’t be a “ten second tidy,” but a true cleansing of our sins so that Jesus can fill us with His Presence.

Father Frank