Washed Clean Under the Nozzle of God’s Grace
”Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave.” ~ St. John Chrysostom
We remain in John’s 1st Epistle for today’s Daily Reading (1 John 1:5-2:2), a good place to dwell should one care to reflect upon the topic of sin and forgiveness. So let’s do just that.
“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” the prophet John tells us, going on to explain that those who claim to be in fellowship with God yet continue to live in the darkness, in the disobedience borne out of obstinate sin, are merely lying to themselves. But by walking in the light, John tells us, by seeking fellowship with Christ and admitting our sinfulness, the Blood of the Lamb cleanses us of our sins.
We therefore must seek to cultivate within us a sense of honest humility and a desire to seek forgiveness, for it is so easy in a world in which the scourge of moral relativism runs rampant to think that we are free of sin. As John tells us today, we are kidding ourselves if we do so. But in the closing words of today’s passage, John reminds us that there is hope.
“My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”
Father John Riccardo likens the Sacrament of Reconciliation to taking a shower. We go before our Father as his sinful children to be washed clean under the nozzle of God’s grace. Scripture tells us that “the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven." (Numbers 15:28). To some, this sounds too good to be true. There are some who have been tricked by the evil one into believing that this forgiveness, a forgiveness rooted in God’s immeasurably generous grace, is available to others but that they are not worthy of it. I know people who believe this.
We partake of the Sacrament of Confession for reasons that go far beyond the forgiveness of our sins. We take advantage of this Sacrament in order to be fortified by God’s grace. We are in fact once again restored in God’s grace by virtue of this Sacrament; peace and serenity of conscience can once again be ours.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Sacrament of Penance “reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks the fraternal communion. The Sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of its members. Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still in pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland.” (CCC 1469). . . Powerful.
So as you put the finishing touches on your list of Spiritual New Years Resolutions, perhaps you might want to add a monthly trip to the Confessional; some go even more frequently. In doing so, one obtains pardon by way of God’s mercy for the offense committed against Him, and are at the same time reconciled within the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. In doing so, one attains healing.
“Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.” ~ Psalm 124