2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Good News Reflection: Rescued from shame
Why do we hide in darkness? Why do we prefer to conceal our sins rather than face them and go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and speak about them out loud?
It’s Jesus who meets us in the confessional, appearing to us in the form of a priest who’s sworn to secrecy. In the Gospel reading, Jesus assures us that he did not come to condemn us. It is safe to come into the light where our sins are exposed.
However, we don’t like going to Confession when guilt is driving us deeper into the darkness of low self-esteem, the fear of being unlovable, or an inability to forgive ourselves.
Guilt is a good motivator for repentance, and regret motivates us to change, but low self-esteem triggers shame, which says that we are undeserving of forgiveness. Shame makes us even more afraid to face the truth about our sins. Guilt tells us we have done evil, regret motivates us, and shame tells us that we are evil.
However, God’s image of you is not poor: He sees what is wonderful about you. He says you do deserve forgiveness. He wants to replace shame with joy. What keeps you from repenting? Perhaps you would benefit from a therapist or spiritual director who helps you heal from low self-esteem. Whatever opportunity will help you get into the confessional, this is where your healing begins.
Jesus completes the healing by curing your spirit with forgiveness, mercy, and unconditional love through the words of absolution that he speaks to you through the priest.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus points out that whoever lives the truth (whoever is honest about themselves) “comes to the light” to be rescued. When we admit our sins, speaking it out loud to the ears of one of Christ’s servants, we are rescued by Jesus. We hear Jesus minister to us through the vocal chords of the priest, and we receive from Jesus the power to resist the same sins in the future.
Why suffer any longer, hiding in the darkness of fear and a poor self-image? Jesus has come to rescue you!
Questions for Personal Reflection:
What do you feel ashamed about? Have you taken this to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? If yes, remember that since God has forgiven you and the Church has forgiven you, they do not condemn you, so stop condemning yourself! If not, what are you waiting for? Blessings and healing await you!
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Why does admitting our sins and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation set us free to live in joy and peace? How have you experienced special graces from going to Confession? Describe a time when you lived in darkness; how did Jesus bring you into the light?
My Lord: Help me to be always aware that You love me with my fragility and my sin. Help me to treat my neighbors with the same merciful attitude You treat me. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica