The Value of Confession

Friends in Christ,
Today we read in the Book of Kings about Naaman the Syrian;  Naaman came down with leprosy – bad news; no cure for it.   So he goes to Elisha, the prophet to seek a cure.  Elisha tells him he can be cured, all he must do is go and wash in the Jordan river.  That’s all? Naaman was indignant at this.  He expected some dramatic ritual or incantation;   

This situation can make us think of the world today.  Many don’t have leprosy of their bodies, but of their soul. People with enormous guilt over many, sometimes terrible things in their life.  So they seek dramatic ways to try to be rid of the guilt.   

I have heard that on some retreats people write down their sins on papers, and then burn the papers –   Does that solve their guilt-problem? Not at all.   Some will go on Oprah and tell all their sins, others will go to a psychoanalyst. While psychiatrists can help resolve problems of the psyche, they cannot remove the guilt from sin.  Others try to have a ‘born-again’ experience, or seek faith-healers, or even cut themselves.  Like Naaman, people believe that removing their guilt and starting fresh in life, requires something unusual.  

But in reality, Christ has already provided a simple way to free people from the sin that weighs them down. Children learn about it in 2nd grade: it is called Confession.  Our children go every month to confession, and they actually enjoy it. It is a fresh start every time. The hope is, that this habit will stick with them when they are older; when they are in college, or adults, and have committed a serious sin; when they feel desperate or lost – then they will remember: ‘I will go to confession and be cured!’ This is why it is called a ‘sacrament of healing.’
 
‘But a priest is just a man, he is a sinner,’ they say. Regarding this, St. Augustine said:[i] Tell them: Augustine is a priest,  and he will himself have to give an account to God.  If he is a bad man, he will know it.  But even if he is good, I don’t put my trust in him.’  
God gave us the priest, not to prove holiness,  but as an instrument by which the mercy of Christ could reach the people. So we should use it often.    

‘Are you a born-again Christian?, they ask. ‘Yes. Every time I go to confession   


[i] Friends of God, p. 421

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