Have you ever spent the weekend washing and waxing your car? Sure you have. Once clean and shiny, the next time you drive your car down the road and you see a mud puddle what do you do? That’s right you drive around it or try your best to avoid it so you can keep the shiny car clean. Catholic writer and speaker Matthew Kelly uses this analogy to describe the importance of confessing our sins. (For my Catholic readers if you have not invited Matthew to speak at your church you might want to check out his website). Also to hear Matthew describe the car wash listen here.
In all of my 4thdayletters I have strived to write about things that unite us as Christians rather than dwell on those things as Christian that we see differently. Today I am going to be reflecting a great deal on the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession as it is also known, but I ask my non Catholic readers to read further because I think this is a universal message not a Catholic only message.
I have heard Matthew Kelly compare this idea of confessing our sins to a car wash many times but this past weekend I experienced it in such a real way that I just had to share it here. This past Friday I washed my car. Then on Saturday I drove my car to church in the afternoon to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was a beautiful picturesque day as I drove my convertibleapproximately 35 miles through the mountains from my home to church. I parked in the church parking lot and walked in for Reconciliation. After receiving the sacrament I felt spiritually refreshed. I felt clean. I felt like I was back in full community with my Christian brothers and sisters. Then I walked back out to my car and lowered the convertible top just before a bright flash of lightening in the distance and a loud crack of thunder. I instantly put the top back up. I hoped that the storm in the distance took a path away from where I had to drive. As I started to drive down the road I came to where the road was totally wet from where it had already rained. I tried my best to keep a distance from the car spray in front of me. However, eventually my car was getting wet, then the rain started, lightly at first, then it was coming in buckets. My once clean car was dirty again.
I have always been a big believer in the healing affect of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I try to go once a month. When I hear the priest acting in Persona Christi and when I hear him say the words that in the name of Jesus Christ my sins are forgiven, I truly feel reunited with Christ and I really feel the weight of my sins lifted off my shoulders. I do feel like I have been through the spiritual car wash. You can watch a short video clip about the importance of Reconciliation from well known Catholic priest Fr. Barron by clicking here.
Isn’t that just the way it is with sin? We can confess our sinfulness and feel cleansed. But in our human weak condition it is only a matterof time before we sin again. Like our car, once our soul is clean from a recent confession, we try harder to avoid the next occasion of sin. However once we have sinned it is like driving in a mist. Then again, now that we have sinned, it becomes easier and easier to sin again. The same is true with the car, once wet we don’t go so far out of our way to avoid the puddles.
As Catholics we look to John 20: 21-23 and we believe Jesus gave the priests of the church the ability to forgive sins.
Jesus said to them again “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.
For my non Catholic readers, rather than getting caught up in the discussion about going to a priest to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I encourage you to see in the Bible the importance of confessing your sins to another person.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.
Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and forsake them obtain mercy
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.
Many of those who had become believers came forward and openly acknowledged their former practices
In conclusion I hope everyone will see the importance of acknowledging we have sinned, that we must repent, ask for forgiveness and be changed. I can say for certain, that even when I confess my sins in the quiet of my thoughts to God, I do not fully experience his forgiveness and grace like I do when I confess to a priest during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
When we live in a state of sinfulness it affects our ability to interact with others. Proverbs 24:16 tells us even a just man falls often.As our soul becomes darkened with sin it is harder for others to encounter Christ in us. And after all isn’t that what we are called to do, to bring Christ to others? Then we need to be clean vessels.
So let’s all make a commitment today to take our soul to the car wash. It would be a shame if we had to admit we spend more time washing our car than cleaning our soul. When is the last time you took time to confess your sins? For my Catholic readers make time to go to Reconciliation, and for my non-catholic readers, find another Christian you trust or your pastor and confess your sins. See if you don’t then have a better ability to forgive yourself and experience God’s healing grace. If we all seek Reconciliation we will sparkle in the light like a parking lot full of shiny clean cars.
Heavenly Father please give us the courage to follow your word and to confess our sins, repent and be changed. Guide us back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Make our soul clean again. Amen.