Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
Prayer for Healing
Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to you.
Allow your healing hand to heal me.
Touch my soul with Your compassion for others;
touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all;
touch my mind with Your wisdom,
and may my mouth always proclaim your praise.
Teach me to reach out to You in all my needs,
and help me to lead others to You by my example.
Most loving heart of Jesus,
bring me health in body and spirit
that I may serve You with all my strength.
Touch gently this life which you have created,
now and forever. Amen.
O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.
CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,4 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.5 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”6 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.7 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.8 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.9 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:10 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.
1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.
2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.
3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.
4 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.
5 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.
6 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.
7 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.
8 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.
9 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.
10 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.
The selection of David, an unimportant shepherd-boy of little Bethlehem, as second King of Israel, was an event which happened over 3,000 years ago, and may at first sight appear to be of little importance for Christians of our century. Yet it has many important lessons to teach us. First and foremost, it shows us how little years and centuries mean to God in his eternal plans. In choosing David he was choosing the royal ancestor of the King of Kings, a thousand years before he came on earth. The day he sent Samuel to Bethlehem, he was planning in advance for you and for me. His thoughts were on us from eternity.
The choice of David, the least likely of Jesse’s sons, is another lesson for us, a lesson to make us humble by admitting our limitations. The whole book of man’s life is open before God; we can see only the cover and the title. In that book, together with his good deeds, God saw the very serious offences David would commit against him in later years, but he also saw his sincere repentance—he still chose David, a consolation surely and an encouragement for all of us sinners, provided our repentance (like David’s) is sincere. And also a lesson for even the holiest of us to avoid rash judgment of our neighbors and of those placed over us.
Another and a very important truth which needs stressing today, perhaps more than ever before, is that all legitimate power exercised by men over their fellowman comes from God. It is part of God’s plan for men’s existence on this earth. Because of the special gifts he has given us, God intends us to live in society, to live together in smaller or greater groups for the benefit of all. For such a group, let it be a tribe or a nation or group of nations, there must be an authority which will regulate the dealings of individuals with one another and with the appointed lawful authority. This authority, provided it is lawfully conferred and lawfully exercised, comes from God and must be accepted, revered and obeyed as such.
And what holds for civil or secular authority holds for authority in the Church also. Christ founded a society in which all the members of his mystical body would live in mutual love and fraternal cooperation. To lead and direct these members Christ appointed leaders to whom he promised his divine assistance. The first leaders were the Apostles, with Peter as their head. Their direct successors are with us still (and will be till the end of time) in the persons of the Pope and the bishops of the Church. To these we owe obedience in all matters that concern our Christian welfare, because this is God’s will and purpose for us.
While those who hold authority in state or Church must exercise that authority with justice and prudence, never forgetting that the power they wield is not their own personal prerogative but is given to them by God, so in like manner must their subjects accept their directives and their laws as coming from God, not from a fellowman.
Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 1216 “This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding. ..”1 Having received in Baptism the Word, “the true light that enlightens every man,” the person baptized has been “enlightened,” he becomes a “son of light,” indeed, he becomes “light” himself:2
Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. .. We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.3
CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.4
CCC 1695 “Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,”5 “sanctified. .. [and] called to be saints,”6 Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.7 This “Spirit of the Son” teaches them to pray to the Father8 and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear “the fruit of the Spirit”9 by charity in action. Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.10 He enlightens and strengthens us to live as “children of light” through “all that is good and right and true.”11
CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”12 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.13 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.14
1 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 61, 12: PG 6, 421.
2 Jn 1:9; 1 Thess 5:5; Heb 10:32; Eph 5:8.
3 St. Gregory Of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 3-4: PG 36, 361C.
4 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.
5 2 Cor 6:11.
6 1 Cor 1:2.
7 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19.
8 Cf. Gal 4:6.
9 Gal 5:22, 25.
10 Cf. Eph 4:23.
11 Eph 5:8, 9.
12 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.
13 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.
14 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
These words of St. Paul to the Ephesians are applicable to every one of us, especially during this season of Lent. We too have the great blessing of the light of the Christian faith. We, too, have died with Christ in our baptism and have been set on the road to the eternal life. We. too, know “all that is good and right and true,” and we know that if we live according to this knowledge, we will be “pleasing to the Lord” and will be moving steadily towards the destination God in his love and mercy has prepared for us.
That destination is heaven, a place of everlasting happiness which God has planned for us before time began and which is the only place which will satisfy all the desires of the human heart.
Knowing this, one wonders why we need reminders to keep us on our toes: that the purpose of today’s lesson should be to awaken us from the sleep of laziness and forgetfulness of our real purpose in life. But the sad fact is, that, apart from the few truly devoted Christians who never forget what their Christian faith means to them, the vast majority of us are very apt to let the passing pleasures and interests of this life take hold on us and blot out ninety-nine per cent of the Christian light which should illuminate all our daily actions.
Many of us today also are asleep, and need this call to awaken us to a sense of our obligations as Christians. This does not mean that we must change our occupation or cut ourselves off from all our relatives and friends, but that we must change our outlook on life and eternity. We must still carry out our daily, worldly tasks whatever they may be, but we must do these tasks from the Christian motive of pleasing God.
The light which Christ has brought, shows us the true meaning of life. Our short sojourn on earth is our training ground and preparation for the everlasting life which will be ours after death, if we use the few years we are given on this earth properly. If any of us have been sleeping–that is, wasting the valuable time God is giving us–now is the time to wake up to the reality of life. There is still time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We know not how much time is left, but this we do know, that if we use that time as St. Paul tells us today, if we “walk as children of light,” living our Christian life to the full, we can still earn the resurrection from the dead and receive eternal light from Christ, our brother and our Savior.
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,1 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,2 than for the ordinary People of God.3 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;4 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.5 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,6 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),7 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.8
CCC 588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.9 Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”10 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.11
CCC 595 Among the religious authorities of Jerusalem, not only were the Pharisee Nicodemus and the prominent Joseph of Arimathea both secret disciples of Jesus, but there was also long-standing dissension about him, so much so that St. John says of these authorities on the very eve of Christ’s Passion, “many. .. believed in him”, though very imperfectly.12 This is not surprising, if one recalls that on the day after Pentecost “a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” and “some believers. .. belonged to the party of the Pharisees”, to the point that St. James could tell St. Paul, “How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; and they are all zealous for the Law.”13
CCC 596 The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus.14 The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers.15 To those who feared that “everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation”, the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”16 The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone to death, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition.17 The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.18
CCC 1151 Signs taken up by Christ. In his preaching the Lord Jesus often makes use of the signs of creation to make known the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.19 He performs healings and illustrates his preaching with physical signs or symbolic gestures.20 He gives new meaning to the deeds and signs of the Old Covenant, above all to the Exodus and the Passover,21 for he himself is the meaning of all these signs.
CCC 1504 Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.22 He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands,23 mud and washing.24 The sick try to touch him, “for power came forth from him and healed them all.”25 And so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.
CCC 2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day.26 He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”27 With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing.28 The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God.29 “The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”30
CCC 2827 “If any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.”31 Such is the power of the Church’s prayer in the name of her Lord, above all in the Eucharist. Her prayer is also a communion of intercession with the all-holy Mother of God32 and all the saints who have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone:
It would not be inconsistent with the truth to understand the words, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” to mean: “in the Church as in our Lord Jesus Christ himself”; or “in the Bride who has been betrothed, just as in the Bridegroom who has accomplished the will of the Father.”33
1 Lk 2:34.
2 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.
3 Jn 7:48-49.
4 Cf Lk 13:31.
5 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.
6 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.
7 Cf. Mt 6:18.
8 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.
9 Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.
10 Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34.
11 Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41.
12 Jn 12:42; cf. 7:50; 9:16-17; 10:19-21; 19:38-39.
13 Acts 6:7; 15:5; 21:20.
14 cf. Jn 9:16; 10:19.
15 Cf Jn 9:22.
16 Jn 11:48-50.
17 Cf. Mt 26:66; Jn 18:31; Lk 23:2, 19.
18 Cf. Jn 19:12, 15, 21.
19 Cf. Lk 8:10.
20 Cf. Jn 9:6; Mk 7:33ff.; 8:22ff.
21 Cf. Lk 9:31; 22:7-20.
22 Cf. Mk 5:34, 36; 9:23.
23 Cf. Mk 7:32-36; 8:22-25.
24 Cf. Jn 9:6-7.
25 Lk 6:19; cf. Mk 1:41; 3:10; 6:56.
26 Cf. Mk 1:21; Jn 9:16.
27 Mk 2:27.
28 Cf. Mk 3:4.
29 Cf. Mt 12:5; Jn 7:23.
30 Mk 2:28.
31 Jn 9:31; Cf. 1 Jn 5:14.
32 Cf. Lk 1:38, 49.
33 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. 2, 6, 24: PL 34, 1279.
St. John was an eyewitness of this story. He was one of our Lord’s first disciples and was with him in Jerusalem when this incident took place. That the behavior of the Pharisees made a deep impression on his young mind is evident from the minute details he is able to give when writing his gospel, sixty years later. The Pharisees were opposed to Jesus from the very beginning of his public life (see Jn. 3 & 7). He mixed with publicans and sinners; he preached mercy and forgiveness. Many of the common people all over the country and in Jerusalem itself were becoming his disciples, and this meant that the Pharisees were losing followers and temple revenue. Their personal pride was being hurt and their privileges being weakened. They would have long since put an end to his mission, but “his hour had not yet come” (Jn. 7: 30).
Today’s story shows up this pride and prejudice. They at first refuse to admit a miracle occurred. When the parents convince them that the cured man is their son who was born blind, they attribute the miracle to a sinner, one in league with Satan, but the cured man shows them this is impossible. They then excommunicate the man but they remain convinced that the worker of this miracle is not from God, not the Messiah, but an impostor.
The Pharisees have long since disappeared from history, but there are thousands still among us who are blinded by the same pride and prejudice, refuse to see the truths of God’s revelation as made known to mankind in its fulness by the life and the teaching of Christ. They refuse to admit that God exists or that Christ existed, or that if he did he was the Son of God, who became man in order to make us sons of God and heirs of heaven. In their pride they claim to be absolute masters of their own fate, and they seem or pretend to be content that that fate will end in the death of the body.
Like the fox who lost his tail, they are not content to keep their irrational unbelief to themselves, but want others to join them. They are ever ready to propagate their errors and to accuse believers of childish credulity and folly. We accept their accusations; we are thankful to God and to his beloved Son, Christ, that we have been given the light of faith. Our reason tells us that the marvelous gifts we have are not from ourselves but were given us by a loving God who by the act of creation shared his own goodness with all creatures, but especially with man whom he made “in his own image and likeness.” These gifts of intellect and will we possess are such that they could never be satisfied in the few years we are given in this life. God’s revelation through Christ informs us that there is a future life awaiting us where our spiritual faculties, and our transformed bodies as well, will be fully and fittingly satisfied.
Christ, “the light of the world,” to whom the Pharisees and their modern followers shut their eyes lest they see, is our light and our delight. Through the gift of faith, he has given us a spiritual eyesight, which, while it cannot dispel all the shadows and discomforts of this life, opens up to us a glorious unending future where our God-given gifts will at last find their true purpose, their true satisfaction.
May God shed some of this light on those who in their folly ignore and deny him, and may he never let us falter in our faith and in our fidelity to the baptismal promises which we made to him when, through his grace and generosity, we became his chosen children of light.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press
The Personal Dimension of Forgiveness
As sin, despite all our bonds with the human community, is ultimately something totally personal, so also our healing with forgiveness has to be something totally personal. God does not treat us as part of a collectivity. He knows each one by name, and he calls hum personally and saves him if he has fallen into sin. Even if in all the sacraments, the Lord addresses the person as an individual, the personalist nature of the Christian life is manifested in a particularly clear way in the sacrament of Penance. That means that the personal confession and the forgiveness directed to this person are constitutive parts of the sacrament… Of course, the confession of one’s own sin can seem to be something heavy for the person, because it humbles his pride and confronts him with his poverty. It is this that we need: we suffer exactly for this reason: we shut ourselves up in our delirium of guiltlessness and for this reason we are closed to others and to any comparison with them. In psychotherapeutic treatments a person is made to bear the burden of profound and often dangerous revelations of his inner self. In the sacrament of Penance, the simple confession of one’s guilt is presented with confidence in God’s merciful goodness. It is important to do this without falling into scruples, with the spirit of trust proper to the children of God. In this way confession can become an experience of deliverance, in which the weight of the past is removed from us and we can feel rejuvenated by the merit of the grace of God who each time gives back the youthfulness of the heart.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.