From the first chapter of Mark, the Gospel reading this weekend:
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t just send the man home — why He insisted that the leper receive the blessing of the priests before returning home? Surely, Jesus knew that the man was well, that he was not going to endanger his family or his community by returning home. Why did He send the leper to the priest?
In Mathew 18:18, we read an encounter between Jesus and His apostles that gives us a clue: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
This is the basis for sacramental confession. When the guilt of wrongdoing weighs upon us, there is nothing quite like the exhilarating release of hearing the absolution of the priest who reminds us of the loving forgiveness of God … to make us whole again.
Lent is coming soon. It’s a great time to avail ourselves of the sacraments, even if it’s been a while since we last went. Tuck a copy of the act of contrition in your sleeve and go … or ask the priest to help you. Believe me, you won’t be the first to do so.
Just go … you’ll be glad you did!