The power of our prayer is magnified in Heaven when we have been to confession.
Today’s Gospel by St. Mark sets the scene of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus public life. It confirms John the Baptist as the messenger, as the voice calling in the wilderness that was foretold in the Old Testament writings of Isaiah.
Perhaps the clearest message in this Gospel today is about sin.
and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Clearly John knew that the people were burdened with sin. His message was a message of a Redeemer who was bringing freedom, a redeemer who came to set prisoners free.
and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.
This gives us a great sense of what was happening with the Baptisms. The water was washing away the sins of the individuals, but the fact that they were being Baptised in a river reveals the scale of sin that was able to be washed away.
It’s no different today for us. Should we not have been to confession for twenty years, thirty years or perhaps if we have never been, we can be made new, we can be freed from the burden of our sin. Perhaps some don’t get to confession because of simply just having fallen out of the practice, perhaps it’s a lack of motivation because we are reluctant to take on talking about our sinfulness. It seems too heavy a job to take on. Be aware this is the work of the devil, the devil doesn’t want anyone to go to confession because it means that the individual is free from his influence when they have been to confession. The devil works very cunningly and it’s so important that we remember this. He cleverly attempts to twist the benefits of every grace from God. If you think about the weight of the chore of going to confession it’s very persuasive at preventing you from going. However if you think about how light & joyful it makes you to be freed from sin, the benefit outweighs the cost beyond any numerical calculation. The devil attempts to make the cost of an hour of preparing and going to confession, seem like an impossible task, beyond what we are capable of so that we carry the heavy burden of sin every day. In some way we have to be what I would describe as a bit contrary with ourselves, we have to overcome our natural inclination to take the easiest route. You see confession is the easiest route, but every time we don’t realise that until we have been. I think if we can be very alert to the distractions that come to prevent us from going then we can build a resilience to ensure we get. There are a few things we can do that can help. Our Lady at Fatima asked us to go to confession on the first Saturday of every month for the reparation of the sins of all sinners and made it clear that it would bring her and God great consolation. Many people go to confession on the first Saturdays. It would be a good New Years resolution for everyone.
One of the other things that you can do, is to find a confession “buddy”. If there is someone you go to confession with this can protect both of you from the devils distractions. The devil struggles for control when we externalise & verbalise. When we are committed to going to confession with someone else it means the decision to go is shared and therefore it takes a lot of work to try and convince two people not to go. Especially when each is concerned for the well being of the other.
The externalising & verbalising of our sins is what confession is about. Many would claim to not need to go to confession because they have already told God they are sorry for their sins. It’s right to be aware of our sins & to seek Gods forgiveness immediately, however confession is key for us to be completely free. It’s possible because of how the devil manipulates us to not fully acknowledge our sinfulness. When there is a little loss of perspective it creates the fertile ground for indifference, which means not being aware or too concerned about our sin. By way of a simple explanation. I am watching something on TV and there is something inappropriate comes on, it’s only a minute or two. I don’t think about it too much. The next time I am watching something inappropriate last a little longer, I don’t think about it, it’s not much longer than the last time. And so it goes on until we are watching something that is totally inappropriate. We have allowed ourselves to become climatized to something sinful. It’s only by going to confession, by thinking about how we have been and then by saying it in confession that we can move it out of our internal lives. We could almost say that the very act of putting our sins into spoken words takes it out of our souls.
So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. James 5: 16-
In this line from St. James he gives us a further benefit of confession that we perhaps do not consider. The power of our prayer is magnified in Heaven when we have been to confession.
Lord in this season of advent, help me to make a good confession and to know the joy of Mary’s purity.
A voice cries in the wilderness: prepare a way for the Lord
The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’