The story of the 10 lepers fascinates me. Check it out here.
When I first read it, it seemed pretty simple: I should be more grateful to God. It makes sense. We can’t go to Mass on Sunday without the priest saying ‘Let us give thanks to the Lord our God’, with us responding, ‘It is right and just’. Gratitude is a good thing to strive for, especially in a society that teaches us that selfishness is the doorway to success.
After a second glance though, I realized that this story actually reminds me of Confession.
The theme of gratefulness does comes into play, and definitely applies to our approach to Confession. Often we don’t fully recognize what God is doing for us. We can be ungrateful, or presumptuous of his mercy and blow past the significance of his healing. It’s often a temptation to just show up, hurry through our penance and try to move on with our day as if nothing happened. But look what the one leper did:
“When he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice”
Lepers were social outcasts, so their healing meant a lot more than just relief from physical suffering. The man realized that Jesus didn’t just give him his societal status back. Jesus gave him the eternal gift of a new clean heart and soul.
We walk into confession as spiritual lepers, wounded and scarred by sin. In the case of mortal sin, we’re even spiritual outcasts of heaven, living outside of the state of grace. But we walk out of Confession as people brought back to life and made new.
If we were to truly recognize what God is doing in us, our reaction would be one of wonder and awe followed by humble gratitude.
We should give thanks to God.
It’s good to follow Jesus’ instructions, like all 10 lepers did. Most of us know the drill of going to Confession after falling into sin as what we are supposed to do. Though it’s not just about showing up and going through the motions as if it’s merely a formula.
We are called to be fully conscious of the relationship with God that we injured through our sin, aware of His healing, and filled with joy and thanksgiving toward Jesus the divine Healer.
In order to fully reap the benefits from Confession, start by looking at it in the big picture.
God created us to be in communion with him. Sin separates us from God and His gift of grace, which enables us strive to live good and holy lives. The Sacrament of Confession restores that relationship with God (and the Church), heals us and fills us with grace.
Concrete ways to thank God after Confession:
- Go to Mass
- Commit to a regular prayer time to build up your relationship with God
- Forgive someone who has wronged you
- Avoid near occasions of sin
- Trust God with your life
- You could even do what I do after Confession. In recalling the Prodigal Son returning to his father and the feast that was thrown in celebration, I always get a nice meal and rejoice in thanksgiving for God’s love, patience and mercy towards me.
Jesus is in the business of saving souls. He heals us so that we can be with him in Heaven for eternity, not to merely pick us up so we can go and do whatever we want.
Never forget how much we need God. As Matt Maher’s song Lord I Need You says, “every hour I need you.”
Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the sins that plague our souls like leprosy, so that we can take them to the Healer, who “makes all things new” (Revelations 21:5).