Read: Luke 19
Today is the day before New Year and we all very eager to enter into a new year. All of us have gone through the most varied experiences last year and we all have been responsible the way we lived our lives in the year 2012. But as we enter the new year, I am sure that we all have a prayer that we would want the new year to be blessed and much less burdensome or problem-less or crisis-less new year. But if we examine our life, many of the issues that we faced this year were basically related to the way we have ordered our lives. Some of the questions that we need to ask ourselves are what is the driving force in our life or what values drive our life? What do we do in our life to make us happy?, What were some of the life goals that we pursued, which were successful and those in which we failed?. One of things that drive people in this land is the materialistic fervor. Round the year, you will have the market and media conveying to us that sales of all kind and season is going on. All these sales only help us to fill our houses with a number of items that we purchase only never to be used or to be used very sparingly. Recently I read a wonderful article written by Maureen Jenkins in the CNN news about the concept and idea of Decluttering. Maureen says that the most important thing that we need to do before the new year is the act of decluttering. After reading that article I felt that yes before the New Year, this is one thing that we all need to do as we start the New Year. Though Maureen has her understanding of decluttering I would like to view decluttering in a different perspective. What is decluttering. I define Decluttering as an action where I make a judgment or a value decision in my life to understand what is precious and what is trash. You look into each home we will have a number of commodities that could be considered as trash and considered as precious. One of the unique and strange things that I have found in certain people is that they like to hoard everything. There are certain houses in this state where you will have the basement full of unwanted things. But ask the house owner to throw away, he feels very guilty. He thinks he may need all that tomorrow. I personally know a person whose main hobby is to collect all the unwanted things that his neighbor’s put it away as trash and then bring it home to be kept in his junkyard or basement. It is not only trash that we hoard. Let us look at our wardrobe or our closet. The amount of clothes, jeweler that is just lying there and some of us does not even know how many dresses that we have. Look at our work table or the kitchen table, and see sometimes the mess that is there on the table. Hence you will find a common refrain from many houses that “Oh I had kept that here, now I can’t find it”. One the main objective of decluttering is to see to it that we throw out of our life all those material trash that we have collected over the years, things that are just lying in our homes, things instead of just hoarding in our homes, which could be shared or given to the less fortunate ones. Declutterin also helps us to reformulate our life in understanding that we can live without certain things. Another major aspect that we can do through the act of decluttering is to consciously be aware what are the valuable and the invaluable aspects in our life. When comparing with the material things that we have hoarded in our life, the financial blessing that we have, and compare it with our family and our relationship, what are the aspects that are valuable? It is sad to see that there are lot of families and individuals who are ready to compromise on family and relationship so that they can have more material blessing with the understanding that these are things that are more valuable than anything else. It is in such a context that we need to examine our lives to understand what is precious and trash, and only when we do that will our new year is more blessed than this year.
In the Bible you have a person who found it very hard to declutter his life. His name is Zacheus and his life story can be found in Luke 19: 1-10 and this is the portion that we shall use for our meditation today as we reflect on our theme “Transformed Living”. Here is one person who has never indulged in the act of decluttering his life. I view the life of Zacheus, a life where he was more interested in hoarding. Life viewed only in terms of collecting the best things in life materialistically and hoarding it with a selfish intention of enjoying it for oneself. Thus you have Zacheus taking the most unjust means and ways to become financially rich and also materialistically blessed. People like Zacheuus wants more and more. If I already have one computer, and the latest model is released, I want that one too. Zacheus is on a buying spree, a hoarding spree. Zacheus represents all those people who are least they concerned whether they will be able to use all the material and electronic gadgets that they buy, but they have narcissistic pleasure in buying those things. Zacheus was a man who was rich, but yet he was more and greedier to have more riches. What Jesus does in the life of Zacheus is the act of decluttering. Jesus enables Zacheus to think as to what are the essential aspects of life. All these years Zacheus was only interested in hoarding and never in sharing or giving to someone. Joy was found in hoarding but once he encounters Jesus Christ, he is able to declutter his life. When he tells Jesus that “half of the riches I give to the poor and if I have cheated anyone I will return him four fold” [Luke 19: 8], Zacheus understood what is valuable and what is a trash in life. He understood that there is greater joy in sharing that hoarding and that in life one needs to declutter so that we have a new perspective of life and living. I think as we start the new year, our Lord wants to come to our life and to our homes asking us to declutter our lives and homes so that we not only make our life more organized, but we are also in a better frame of mind, to understand the valuable and the invaluable aspects that is there in our life. What is precious and what is trash in our life will determine how our new year is going to be.