Are you weary of snow, slush, and black ice? Are you tired of putting on layers of clothing to protect against the cold? Take heart! Spring is March 20—only a few weeks away. Then it will be time for spring cleaning, when we move the sofa and wash the windows. We are quickly approaching Lent, which is called the springtime of the soul. It’s a time to do some serious spiritual cleaning.
The undertaking will not be difficult because we have a willing partner. The Gospel recounts that once a leper said to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean,” and he heard, “I do wish it.” And at Jesus’ touch, the man’s body marred with ugly sores became as good as new. We too can appeal to Jesus to help renew us, and we can be confident that he will respond eagerly.
We may be sullied by bad habits, dirtied by little transgressions, or even disfigured by serious sin. Who doesn’t want to be cleansed and start afresh? During Lent, we can turn to Jesus and say, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” He will reply, “Of course I wish to!” After all Jesus once washed the world clean by shedding his blood on the cross. On the day of our baptism, he cleansed us personally washing away the traces of sin. No filth is beyond the scope of his love. Remember, the evening before he died, he stooped and washed twelve pairs of dirty feet. Jesus has power to restore us again no matter how much scrubbing it takes. He can make us radiantly clean.
The three traditional “cleaning supplies” of Lent are prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. First, during Lent we can pray a little more or a little better and take advantage of the sacraments, especially the purifying Sacrament of Reconciliation. Second, we can donate our time and energy, our money and possessions, and ourselves by contributing to the special collections at church and in the community and by participating in projects that benefit those in need. And third, we can fast from certain foods, not liver or kale, but our favorite ones. Better still, we can fast from harmful activities—in particular those that leave us feeling dirty and discouraged.
Not long ago we made New Year’s resolutions. Now is a good time to recommit ourselves to these and perhaps add one or two more. As you mull over how you will use the weeks of Lent to renew yourself, ask our Lord what he thinks you should do. Listen carefully and with open ears and an open heart. Then rely on Jesus, the Master Cleaner, to help you get the job done. Let him touch you.
If you are reading this, your soul is probably not caked in dirt and in need of intense scouring, but it may be a bit dingy. What will you do to have a brilliantly white soul by Easter?