December 16, 2018
We heard John the Baptist asking, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” And he tells us, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I, is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
We celebrate this Sunday, in anticipation of the Birth of Christ, by burning the rose candle on the Advent wreath. It reminds us of his coming, that is immanent. Our preparations too need to be intense and our hearts ready to take him. Many churches are having reconciliation services this week and this gives us an opportunity to clean our hearts.
This is an amazing sacrament that helps us to overcome our guilt and makes us feel worthy to stand before the Lord. I was taken up by the story where a person during the French revolution betrayed his master and his family and got them killed in the hands of the revolutionaries. That family was so good they were faithful and practicing Catholics who were very kind hearted. The revolutionary carried the guilt of getting his masters killed so he carried the picture of his master and mistress in his pocket all the time. Their memory brought tears in his eyes. He finally decided to go for confession and overcome his guilt. After confessing his sin he showed the picture of his master and mistress to his confessor priest. He realized that they were his parents and looking at the reaction on the face of the priest, this penitent too realized that this priest was the son of those kind and loving masters. So he pulled out his dagger and handed it over to the priest and told him, “Please kill me for I do not deserve to live.” The priest stepped back, took a moment, and realized his role as priest, and gave him absolution. He said, “your sins are forgiven go in peace.” This is truly the role of a priest. A Psychology professor once teaching in the seminary said, “You priests have forgotten your role as confessors. That is why we prosper in the business of counseling.” You may pay any amount of money for counseling but still have the guilt and live with those baggages of guilt and pain, but the sacrament of reconciliation only can heal you completely and make you a new child and new person before God.
Many think that they have no sin. I did my masters in counseling and we were taught how to standardize a questionnaire to testing your personality, IQ and EQ levels and so on. Most of the scientific questionnaires have a lie scale in between those questions. Those questions are very generic and universal facts. Like I never said a lie. No one has ever hurt me. And if you answer positively any of those questions positively you prove yourself a liar and your test is bogus and your answer sheet will be thrown away because you are lying. So no one can claim that he has not sinned at all and even the secular scientific world recognizes that. So we all need to go for confession.
One priest was explaining it very beautifully and said confession is like a vitamin pill. Sometimes doctors prescribe it for those recovering form ailments, and sometimes we take them even though we are not sick, but just to keep ourselves fit and healthy. All of us need it no matter whether we consider our self in grave sin or not. Before taking food we clean our hands and pray, so too before taking communion we need to be clean and worthy no matter what.
Some people think why not go directly to God and why do we need a priest, or a human being, as mediator? In that case why did Jesus become man there was no need of incarnation at all then. He also went and received baptism in the hands of John. In the gospel today, we hear John saying he is not worthy to untie the thong of His shoes. If Jesus could go and receive Baptism from the hands of another man, doing what was being done at that time, we need to practice our faith as well. He also asked those ten lepers after curing them, “Go and show yourself to the priest.” Why did Jesus then ask people to go to a priest? He could have also told them go look up to the sky and praise God.
I can give you many more examples where I have seen miracles happening in the confessional. We all need it to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually heathy. My tag line for confession is this. “Those who feel and think that they do not need confession are the ones who need it the most.” Our preparation for Christmas will not be complete to receive Christ in our hearts unless we purify ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.