So, this past month the missionaries were in charge of hosting a confirmation retreat. After some preliminary prayer/brain storming I felt called to talk about Reconciliation. This was an interesting desire. Although, I did recognize confession as a worthwhile tradition to sustain a healthy, well-round soul, I didn’t have a particularly strong or zealous passion for this sacrament. As I thought about it I was reminded of how I often overlooked the importance and necessity of confession as a teen. So, in an effort to come up with some convincing material for my talk I started researching and praying. I just desired to demonstrate that Reconciliation is nothing to neglect or fear. Well, as usual, I realized that this effort was not solely for the teens, but also for my own little heart. I’d like to think that confession doesn’t intimidate me, but often it does. Like most people, I don’t care much for uncomfortable situations and I don’t always like to acknowledge my weakness and failures. Simply put, the act of Reconciliation threatens my pride. Maybe you can relate?
As I formulated my talk I was really amazed by what I had forgotten about the magnitude of this Sacrament. Lately, God has been really informing me through Scripture. A very familiar Bible story was what re-revealed to me how amazing confession is. Alright, try to think back to your days of Sunday School – there is a paralyzed man whose loyal buddies busted through a roof in order to get their friend in direct contact with Jesus. Christ performs a miracle and the man walks away healed (Mark 2:1-12). For me, this story has always reminded me of radical friendship but what I really missed was its testament to the power of forgiveness. What I seemed to ignore or paid little attention to is that before Jesus commands “Rise, pick up your mat and walk” another more profound miracle happens. As the paralyzed man is lowered before Him, Jesus, just as a paramedic, made an assessment of the man’s condition and attended to the most critical injury. Immediately Jesus said, “Child, your sins are forgiven,” thus, healing the man’s soul. Jesus then went on to heal the less critical affliction, the disabled body. In response to this scripture Dr. Scott Hahn points out that, “as far as our Lord was concerned, healing our bodies is a lesser miracle than healing and restoring divine life to our souls.” By restoring that man’s body (his temporal life) Jesus gave him maybe 40 more years of mobility. However, eventually upon that man’s death his body would be buried and start to wither away. Whereas, through the forgiveness of his sins, Jesus restored that man’s soul, giving him everlasting life (something greater than 40 trillion years)!
WOW. We have access to that kind of miracle and soul restoration at just about any time, but we have to put our pride aside and go seek out Jesus. That paralyzed man might have been a little hesitant when his friends suggested they resort to getting on the roof. Although he was paralyzed, he still had pride and such a desperate measure of breaking through a roof might have stirred up a feeling of humiliation regarding his condition. Yet, that paralyzed man had faith and humbly allowed his friends to carry him and then was helplessly suspended down in front of a large crowd to the feet of Jesus. As we walk into that confessional in many ways we do the same thing. We surrender our pride, claim our sins and beg for a supernatural healing. And through the priest, Jesus works that miracle, removing our sins and returning our souls to new. This perspective consequently has caused a radical change in how I view confession. Yes, it still is uncomfortable but it’s a miracle that God desperately wants to give me and one I can no longer overlook.