Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sanitize Sin

Sanitize Sin

The truth is, we all sin.  And we all probably have some sin in our lives that we are terribly ashamed of and terribly humiliated by.   It is a sin that we really do not want to share.  That is the one that NEEDS to be confessed, because until we do, that sin will ruin our lives.

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I think we pretty much have the hand sanitizer down in our culture. I always laugh whenever we go to El Salvador, because every time Americans are done seeing or greeting people, the first thing we do is go into our bag and sanitize our hands. To the locals, is has become kind of a joke about us.

We have it in all different forms, right? There is the Purell liquid that you can use on your hands and body. Then you can wipe everything else down with the Purell wipes. And for the air, there is even an aerosol spray that kills 99.8 percent of germs. We have that part down. What we do not have down is the internal purification.

Jesus says very clearly that it is only the things that come from within that can defile. We do not have to worry about what comes from the outside hurting us.

No matter what you have been through in life, no matter what horrible things you may have encountered, no matter what terrible things have been done to you or against you, that does not have the ability to defile or to hurt your heart. What does have the ability to defile is that which is within us. The things that we keep inside of us and do not let God touch. The things that we keep in darkness and the things we keep hidden and do not let others see. That has the power to defile.

I will give you a few examples. And just as they say before a novel or before a movie: the characters described in this do not necessarily reveal anything about the characters I am going to talk about.

As a priest, I have the great privilege of hearing Confessions. Over the last nine years, I considered it one of the most sacred and profound things - to be with somebody and to hear confessions. Especially with people that have been away from the church or away from the Sacraments. That privileged moment where they, for some reason, feel safe enough to confess a sin to you, which they may have been holding onto for years.

I will give you a few examples of this, and again let me preface by reiterating that they are not particular examples...

I was thinking about a man dying in a hospital. It is the last day of his of life here on this Earth. He receives Last Rites, and goes to Confession. There is a sin that he has been holding onto his entire life. He has never spoken about it to anybody from the time that he was a child. It was something foolish that he may have done as a child. He never had the courage to confess it. Now, finally, on his deathbed, he is able to, for some reason, have the grace to confess and get that sin off his chest.

The amazing thing is, the moment that he does and he is received by the priest in Confession and absolved, there is a sense of relief. This sin that has haunted him his whole life (that he thought was unforgivable, and was so embarrassed by), he can now finally confess and experience forgiveness.

I think about a woman that came to Confession. She had been distant from God ever since having committed an abortion in her teens (this has actually happens more than you'd think). She had felt pressured into it by her family. Afterward she remained a practicing Catholic, she had been to Confession numerous times, participated in renewals and retreats -but she remained distant from God, having never been able to confess this sin. For some reason, she felt safe enough with me that she could get it off her chest, and she confessed it. She said to me, "Father, can this be forgiven?" And, you know, in that moment of absolution, I just think about the Lord, the Father, who has been desiring so much to forgive this sin, to heal her and to free her from this burden.  

I think about other situations where someone got into an affair early on in their lives. Think of a young woman who was a baby-sitter and got involved with the husband and it lasted for 40 years, and she never told anyone. Finally, she could bring it into Confession and bring it to light. All of a sudden that sin that seemed so unforgivable, so much of a burden, that has been controlling and destroying so much of their lives, now all of a sudden could be redeemed.

It's only the things that we keep to ourselves that can defile us. It is only that sin that we keep within ourselves and do not share with anybody else, with our most trusted friend, or our spouse, or even God. It is only that sin that can defile us. When we do that, when we keep it to ourselves, that is when it leads to addiction. That is when it leads to affairs. That is when it leads to whatever it is that could destroy our lives.

When we finally do share it with the Lord, in Confession, God then has the power to transform it.

Jesus tells us so clearly, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: nothing that enters you from the outside can defile that person; but things that come out from within are what defile." And the truth is we all have sin. We all probably have some sin in our lives that we are terribly ashamed of and terribly humiliated by. We probably have some sin that we really do not want to share. That is the one that needs to be Confessed! That is the one that we really need to bring to God, because until we do, that sin will cause defilement. That sin will ruin our lives. When we bring it to the Lord or we bring it to the Sacraments, we bring it to Christ, we bring it to Confession, and then we can finally experience His mercy and His love.

Brothers and sisters, we are so used to cleaning ourselves on the outside. We are so used to 'Purelling' our hands, and washing our hands, and showering, we have that down; but what we do need is the internal hygiene. We all need to, from time to time, look into our hearts and see if there is any sin there that is hidden, if there is any sin there that we have not wanted to share and been afraid to bring to the light. That is the sin that we need to bring to Christ, because until we do, it does defile us, and it will wreak havoc in our lives. Once we do, it brings great freedom and great love.

Our Lord revealed to Faustina in Divine Mercy that the one who has the greater sin is the one who is justified to have greater mercy.

It is in that sin that we have hidden that we will experience His mercy. God the Father, wants to give you His mercy. He wants you to experience it! 

I invite you to do that. Look within yourselves, to see what needs to be cleaned, and purified, and reconciled. Then bring whatever sin or thing may be hidden to our Father.

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