I don’t know if you have ever had the pleasure, but quite recently I took a little bit of time to learn how to clean the engine bay of our van.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about that’s okay, it’s enough to know that it’s that dirty and greasy area under the hood that hides all of those complex looking components.
And while there, in between spraying the degreaser and wiping things up with the microfibre cloth, it suddenly hit me that almost anyone looking on would judge that I had done everything backwards.
Did I wash and polish the outside yet? No.
Did I declutter and clean up around the seats? No.
How about the tires and their rims? I didn’t even look at them.
Instead, I had (quite purposefully I may add) gone to the area of our vehicle where it was easiest to hide the dirt and most troublesome to clean. In short, I had done it all backwards.
And while you might be quick to agree, let me stop us both for one moment to consider a very different way of doing things, a Biblical way of doing things.
We are quick to tell others that we will pray for them (whether or not we will) because that is the kind of thing that good and religious people say. It’s time you and I returned to a truly Catholic way of behaving.
You will recall (I hope) the many instances where Jesus warns about a kind of spiritual life that is flashy and clean on the outside but pays little to no attention to what is happening inside.
White washed tombs, dirty cups, and people with very public personas and little substance—our Lord used all sorts of imagery to drive home the point that the real place to begin our work is precisely where others won’t notice.
And we do this too, don’t we?
We are motivated to work out because others will see right away if we are physically fit or not.
We are motivated to drop an envelope in the collection basket no matter how much we are actually giving because for that split second someone might see us passing it along without contributing a dime.
We are even quick to tell others that we will pray for them (whether or not we will) because that is the kind of thing that good and religious people say.
No, it’s time you and I returned to a truly Catholic way of behaving. We’re going to pray and then do good works.
We’re going to love and then carefully consider our words as we speak.
And, oh yes, we’re going to clean the engine bay before we have polished the rims because if the inside is clean, then the van is clean indeed.