Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
January 14, 2021
Hebrews 3:7-14; Psalm 95:6-7c, 8-9, 10-11; Mark 1:40-45
Jesus, after healing the leper asked him to do two simple things: go to the priest to complete his ceremonial cleansing, and “tell no one anything.” We don’t know if the leper visited the priest or not, but in spite of the healing he received, he didn’t honor Jesus’s request to be silent about it. In his exuberance over his healing, he was disobedient to Christ’s command to keep silence.
We can speculate that this man’s disobedience prevented others from drawing close to Christ for healing because it caused Jesus to have to remain outside the towns in the remote areas. Our personal sin has negative consequences beyond our own spiritual health. According to the Catechism, “Sin …wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity.” (CCC 1849)
When we sin we not only injure our own spiritual lives, but the spiritual lives of others as well. This is why frequent confession of our sins is beneficial not only to our own spiritual health, but also to the overall spiritual health of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now some may ask why should I go to confession when I have not committed a mortal sin? Aren’t my venial sins forgiven at Mass? Yes they are, but I would ask in reply, “why then did so many of the Saints confess their sins weekly?” We can assume that Saint Pope John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta were not confessing mortal sin every week. So why did they go to confession so often?
The answer is that every sacrament imparts its own particular grace. The sacramental grace of confession is primarily the forgiveness of sins, but it is also, secondarily, the spiritual strengthening of the soul. This is why it is called a sacrament of healing.
Confession heals our relationships with God and with the Church, which have been wounded or broken by personal sin, and at the same time it strengthens those relationships.
Going to confession is like doing a spiritual workout. Through the process of self-examination, repentance, confession, and penance, we exercise every major spiritual-muscle group:
– the theological virtues (faith, hope, love for God),
– humility (it’s not exactly self-inflating to kneel down and expose our faults and failings),
– justice, prudence, fortitude (it takes courage to step into a confessional), and self-denial.
Confession is like a gymnasium of Christian virtue. Frequent and regular workouts in the confessional will do wonders for our spiritual health.
Just as we may have made New Year’s resolutions to improve our diet and exercise regularly, let us also consider making a resolution to frequently exercise our spiritual health by making a good confession regularly, perhaps once a month or even more frequently than that.
While frequent confession is not a duty imposed by the Church; it is simply a heartfelt, wise recommendation for those who truly seek spiritual growth. Just as so many of us here attend daily Mass frequently to receive the spiritual benefits of Holy Communion, so should we also adopt the practice of frequent confession in order to help us to clearly see and repent of our selfishness and our sinful attitudes toward others.
God bless you.