Sunday, January 29, 2017
Come to Jesus Through the Sacraments
Come to me, all you who labor and have been burdened, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.
Confession and Eucharist are sacraments that call us to a deeper relationship with God. Confession is a sacrament of healing because it heals our souls. When we sin, we injure our soul because we injure our relationship with God. Our soul needs healing so we need to be reconciled with God.
We come to confession because we realize several things. First, we have damaged our relationship with God. Second, we want to repair that relationship. Lastly, we resolve to avoid damaging that relationship again. Confession allows us to repair our relationship with God and it allows us to hear God’s forgiveness. Healing happens once our relationship with God is restored. This does not mean that illness is an indication of sin. Pope St John Paul II suffered from Parkinson's for years but this does not indicate he suffered because of his sinfulness.
Confession is not a magic rite where God automatically wipes our slate clean. If there is no resolve to change, then the sins are not forgiven even if the priest pronounces the absolution.
Confession can also help us fight temptations. Temptations are not sins and do not damage our relationship with God. We sin only when we give in to temptations. One of the powers of Confession is it weakens the power of temptation. St Ignatius of Loyola writes in his Spiritual Exercises that Satan works in secret. By exposing the temptation in confession, it loses its power over us. St Paul says in Ephesians 5:13, “But all things that are disputed are made manifest by the light. For all that is made manifest is light.” When we confess our temptation, we expose it to the Light and weaken its power because we expose it. This is another form of healing. The Catholic Church requires all the faithful to go to Confession at least once a year because it is good for our soul. Personally though, I think one should go more often.
The Eucharist is different from the other sacraments because aside from it being a sign, it is a reality. It is not only a sign of Christ, but it IS the Body and Blood of Christ. It does not only point to Jesus. It is Jesus. There are times when we cannot receive Jesus physically so we receive him by making a spiritual communion. With this, we ask Jesus to do to us what he can do as we receive him in communion. We can also do this when we come to Jesus in adoration which is an extremely good practice. By adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we come before the Lord and when we are before the Lord, we enter heaven because heaven is where the Lord is. Adoration is a foretaste of what it will be like in heaven. Adoration is extremely beneficial to us that a plenary indulgence is given when we adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for half an hour as long as we fulfill the other requirements for plenary indulgence.
These two sacraments are invitations of Jesus to come to him. While it is true that we can pray anywhere, nothing beats a personal contact with the Lord himself in the sacraments. When we need healing of our soul, we come to Jesus and he gives us rest. When we are weary, we come to him to find rest. Rest is found not in pursuing material things, but in possessing the true Treasure: Jesus Christ.