Friday, January 10, 2014

Confession is an encounter with Jesus whose "mercy motivates us to do better."

Just as an animal becomes a stronger beast of burden and more beautiful to behold the more often and better it is fed, so too confession - the more often it is used and the more carefully it is made as to both lesser and greater sins - conveys the soul increasingly forward and is so pleasing to God that it leads the soul to God's very heart.--Revelations of St. Bridget

Gospel Text: (LK 5:12-16)
It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
And the leprosy left him immediately.
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” What great faith and confidence the man with leprosy had in Jesus. This man believed that Jesus could heal him and he asked to be healed. Too often we find ourselves asking Jesus to heal us, to forgive us, or to grant us grace; but not asking with full belief and confidence that He will actually do it. I know it is good to ask the Lord when we are in need, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” -Matthew 7:7 This asking is done with the confidence and belief that if God wills it, He will do it. We are all sinners, we all experience some kind of brokenness in our human experience. We too have places in our lives where we need to be made clean, as the leper did.

If we are honest with ourselves, life is messy. It includes our best and our worst. There are joys and sorrows, successes and failures, moments of faithfulness and sinfulness. This is life and Jesus wants to enter into this. Jesus, the King of Glory, was born into a mess and laid in a manger- a messy makeshift crib likely covered in animal saliva and food. In the first few days of His life, His parents had to flee with Him to save His life. This is Jesus who dined with tax-collectors, prostitutes, and sinners of all kinds. God is not afraid of our messiness.

I understand how difficult it can be to take the plunge, as it were, and enter the confessional especially if months or even years have passed since one's last good confession. But, as I like to say, the most difficult step in making a good confession is turning the door knob of the confessional door and getting inside. Once there, with the help of God the Holy Spirit and with the prayers of our Mother Mary, the rest is easy. Really.

It doesn't matter how many or how great our sins may be. It doesn't matter how long we may have been away from the Sacraments. Jesus is waiting there to forgive us and heal us through the ministry of the priest in this most beautiful Sacrament of Divine Mercy.

We need not fear and try to hide our worst from Him, for He alone is the one who can truly make us clean.

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