When a person goes to Confession and their sins are gone, what remains?
Consider a nail hammered into a board and then removed? What remains? The hole!
As a Combat Medic in the Army, you have to treat penetrating wounds by cleaning them from the inside out. That is what God's grace does when you go to Confession and your given a Penance. The Lord wants to heal the penitent from the inside out.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his descendants. If the man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head. “The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” LV 13:1-2, 44-46
“Brothers and sisters, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 COR 10:31—11:1
I remember in the early 1970′s, my Mother would tend to her garden scooting from one plant to the next.
It would begin with using a rototiller and a hoe. We would make the straight lines and plant what ever vegetables we were placing in the uprooted dirt.
We would make a full fledged garden with the plow. Once the seed was planted, we would fill the holes with dirt.
We would keep all the weeds out of it and keep it cleared so that the plants would take root and grow.
The Sun would come out giving the light and the rain would come down and water the plants.
It would always be a lot of work and my Mother was totally dedicated in maintaining it. She would take great care to ensure her garden was well maintained. If she needed work, she had my Brother and I to do the things she couldn’t.
What a great gift our Mother was in giving us this great example.
She had her back broke in two places and she would literally scoot from one plant to the next.
In remembering all this, it reminds me of a spiritual truth that is easily missed.
People question the need of penance challenging me why they need to do penance at all.
It is to fill the holes left as a consequence of sin.
The sin is forgiven in the Confessional, sure enough, the Lord is merciful and true.
But what is left is the hole as a result of the damage due to the sin.
The Lord wants to plant his seed of grace to nurture healing in the wound.
Once the seed is planted, He fills the holes with grace.
Jesus gives us the means to keep all the weeds out of it and he keeps it cleared so the grace will take root and grow.
We must cooperate with his grace in order for it to grow.
The Son shining His grace upon your wounds allows the wounds to receive the nutrients necessary.
This is the purpose of the Sacraments, especially Confession.
St. John the Baptist said to “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”
This is the sign of the spiritual healing that takes place with the healing of the wounds, the plugging of the holes.
This is very important, the Church is here to till the dirt, to clean out the weeds and allow the grace to take root and grow. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to give us the gift of God’s grace found in the Sacraments.
True healing comes when you keep the wounds clean. As they say, cleanliness is next to Godliness!
The struggles of life can deepen the wounds, sure enough. Sin can cause the wounds to bust and boil, become infected.
Do you want to be declared “Clean” by the Lord? Do you want to keep your soul clean? Then you must make the Confessional a place of habit. To go to Confession is to encounter the Lord and His Mercy.
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” Acts 3:19
We are called to do penance, reform our lives through repentance (Acts 2:38). We are all called to be reconciled with God, this is why Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, why he was crucified on a cross, so that he would rise again and set the captives free.