OK, public confession: I hate going to the doctor. I think it’s a waste of time and money. Sitting on the awkward paper-covered table and staring at the glass containers filled with cotton balls and oversized popsicle sticks is almost unbearable. And now that I’m older, I don’t even get a lollipop. Truthfully, the thing I hate the most is admitting there’s something wrong with me.
Now, I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this. In fact, I’m sure of it. And unfortunately, the same goes for confession. Although, many people who regularly see their doctor still don’t practice the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I know. It’s scary. Having to go through a lengthy examination of conscience and listing your failings is unpleasant and uncomfortable. Standing in line for what seems like forever just gives more parishioners the opportunity to see that you’re a sinner. Or maybe you’re positive Father will remember each of your sins and look at you knowingly at the next parish council meeting.
Whatever excuse we use to keep us away from confession, I can assure you, the devil is quite happy. He doesn’t want us to receive grace, and he certainly doesn’t want us to reject him.
Our Lord, the divine physician, is the only one who can heal our wounds and take away our sins. But even though He knows all, we have to reveal to him our symptoms. Because in the same way that an illness keeps us from being energetic and healthy, past and habitual sin keeps us from a deep, intimate relationship with Him. Unlike physical wounds, which can affect us forever, in Reconciliation, the stain of sin from our souls is removed as if it never happened.
“But I don’t need to go see a doctor. I have Google and WebMD and that guy at the health food store to fix what’s wrong with me.” Well, that MIGHT work in the physical life, but it won’t in the spiritual life. Only talking to God about the things we’ve done wrong just isn’t the same as overcoming fear and pride and coming face to face with our sin in the confessional. Besides showering abundant graces, confession stretches us, humbles us and gives us a greater capacity to love. Only then can we be saints.
So, if you haven’t yet experienced the mercy of Reconciliation this Lenten season, please go. It’s time to see a doctor.