For many years, around 300 people would travel by train each day to a small town of 230 people. Why did they come? They came because they sought the mercy and counsel of Christ in the confessional of John Marie Vianney. Why did Father John 12 to 17 hours a day sitting in his confessional? He was there because he believed that this sacrament was that important.
Today we often hear people say, “Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest when I can just pray to God directly? It’s like the complaint of Aaron and Miriam in the first reading, “Is it though Moses alone that the Lord speaks?”
Jesus, in the upper room, breathed on his apostles and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Did Jesus give them this authority and power for no purpose at all?
Jesus gave us the sacrament of reconciliation because we need it. Confession prevents my sins from just being between me and myself. It prevents me from making mountains into molehills, and molehills into mountains. It allows me to know with absolute confidence that this sin of mine is forgiven forever. When we go to confession we acknowledge the Incarnation, that Christ redeemed us in His flesh, not merely by composing a prayer to the Father.
If you are too shy to admit your sins to a priest, who won’t know who you are, and couldn’t tell another soul even if he did, then what makes you think you will have the poise to stand face to face with Christ at the judgment?
When Miriam and Aaron sinned, they turned for mercy to the Lord’s servant, Moses, and their sin was healed. If you have neglected confession, please come. There is mercy, peace, and God’s help awaiting you.
If you already go to confession with some frequency, then please offer a penance today for the conversion of sinners. St. John Vianney did penances for conversions because he was convinced that it made a difference.
In the Gospel we heard that every sick person who came and touched Jesus’ cloak was healed, but those sick people first had to be brought to Jesus. Help carry them.