Browsing Pastor's Corner

Hoarding Homily

Mar 26, 2019

I am sure we are all familiar with the show “hoarders” or are at least familiar with the disorder called hoarding.

Each hour long episode profiles two people on the verge of a personal crisis, all caused by the fact that they are unable to part with even the tiniest possessions, and the cumulative effect becomes a mountain of junk and garbage overtaking their home and entire lives. If they don't respond to professional help, the consequences sometimes involve eviction, kids being taken away, or even jail time.

Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, workplace impairment, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members: limiting activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It can also put the individual and others at risk of fires, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns.[10] Compulsive hoarders may be aware of their irrational behavior, but the emotional attachment to the hoarded objects far exceeds the motive to discard the items.

When reflecting on today’s readings, I could not help but think that we all suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder…except rather than accumulating an avalanche of material things that seriously impairs our ability to function normally within one’s own sacred space called the home, it is the accumulation of sin that inflicts the greatest harm on ourselves and others and threatens not just my physical health but more importantly my spiritual health.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us about holding onto our sins lest we reach a critical point where we are buried beneath them literally suffocating us to death.

"Those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them— do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

Our bodies like our homes are sacred spaces because within those bodies God’s most sacred creation resides, not just our soul but a soul redeemed at the price of Christ’s most precious blood spilled from a human body and humanity that He now shares in common with us.

So that just as in a hoarding situation one’s whole family is affected by the disorder, the disordered affections due to sin, effect the entire body of Christ, all humanity as we see so graphically when we look at a Crucifix.

Sin is social…in fact it has negative cosmic ramifications…Adam and Eve’s original sin not only impacted them but all God’s creation…which is why Jesus says when I am raised up both on the Cross and from the Tomb I will draw all things to myself…embrace them in His arms of Redemption…the great rescue…

More than leading a people from the slavery of Egypt into the promised land of Caanan…Jesus leads the entire universe from the slavery of sin and Satan into the promised Land of the New Heaven and New earth we hear about in the concluding chapters of the book of Revelation…Rather than leading us through the waters of the Red Sea to a temporary home, Jesus leads us through the cleansing waters of baptism into the arms of God our Father.

As hoarders face eviction from their unkempt homes, sin can be defined as the eviction of the presence of God’s grace from one’s soul, having no place to reside because of the hoarding mess that sin causes. …

When we leave a hoarding house…the mess doesn’t just disappear…it remains in place…when we die…whatever effects in life we have accumulated by way of sin, do not disappear…they remain in our soul like a sponge swollen with water…we carry our soul and all in it into the next life: those unresolved conflicts, held onto grudges, refusals to forgive, those particular sins we refuse to let go of or acknowledge…which highlights the emphatic point Jesus is making today…repent now…clean house now…

As was mentioned some hoarders face jail time and as uncomfortable as it may make us, the truth remains…we all face some serious jail time if when we die are souls are still swollen and cluttered with the affects of sin…it’s called purgatory…during the Sermon on the Mount Jesus makes a statement that the Church has identified as a teaching on the doctrine of purgatory…and no prison is fun…least of all purgatory…

Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.q Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

Every sin has its own debt…unconfessed and unrepentant sins accrue a massive debt, one that could far exceed the current National Debt that runs into the trillions…which begs the question, how does one even begin to pay off such an impossible debt individually and more so collectively as humanity?

Like a bank that gives out money interest free…the sacraments, especially confession, is how we manage that debt and obliterate it…and the currency we use is Christ Himself…fully present with His healing power and presence in the sacraments…again, especially Confession. As we hear from today’s psalm so applicable to Christ:

He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills, He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.

Perhaps we have had the experience of walking into or trying to into a hoarder’s house…they have long since gone nose blind…but we do not…the filth and stench is nauseating…Without the practice of confession we tend to become sin-blind…and are not aware of the damage that is being caused by sin…especially by way of poor health, self-destructive relationships…indifference…anxiety…so called bad luck…

Jesus tells the parable of the Fig Tree…three years it has not borne fruit…having not made a good confession in a long time is like allowing one’s house to go unclean…accumulating and keeping one’s sins and those committed against one and just as there is no space to maneuver in a hoarder’s house…and it is extremely unsanitary…there is little room for God’s grace to maneuver in a soul.

You can’t blame a doctor who you refuse to go to for having bad health…all of us need the divine physician….

Making a good Lent Confession is the equivalent of spiritual house cleaning…then frequent confession…is the check and balance against hoarding happening again…keeping things neat and clean…which allows more room for peace, health and joy in your life…there is that freedom to accept and embrace others…having more room in one’s life and soul to love them and God.

In addition to our weekly Confessions on Center of Mercy Tuesdays and Saturdays, we will be one of the host Parishes in a diocesan wide Day of Reconciliation Monday April 15th from 3 to 9…with more information to come regarding who the other host parishes of the diocese will be that day.

When hoarding sin…there remains little room for peace, love, joy and holiness…but the more we hoard God’s graces, especially by way of the sacraments, how wonderfully ironic…the more room is made for even more and more peace, love, joy and holiness.

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