Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mk 1:29-39

Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

In today's Gospel, we see yet again Christ performing miracles so that men may see and believe, and the theme of this reading from St. Mark is that of realizing our sin, repenting, and obtaining forgiveness.

In St. Matthew's telling of these events, he recalls the prophecy of Isaiah. In that prophecy, Isaiah refers to the sins that Christ bore onto the cross as "our infirmities" and "our diseases". Sin is the disease of the soul. Like disease of the body, there are degrees of severity. Venial sin is like catching a cold or a fever. They hamper our abilities and productivity, but will not kill us. Mortal sin is like pneumonia or tuberculosis: it disables our ability to be in God’s grace and kills the soul. So in the readings heard, we should see these illnesses spoken of as a euphemism for sin.

What Christ does with these infirmities is to heal them, just as He heals us and restores our souls back to grace and friendship with Himself through the sacrament of confession. Christ who endured torture for our sins is ready to forgive us yet again and to this very day so long as we are sincerely sorry, intend to avoid sin again, and do penance. How lucky are we to have this gift; this sacrament? What did we do to merit this?

In short, we did nothing to merit it. It was Christ’s love for us and desire to us ever reconciled with him that bought this sacrament for us. Today we have this idea of Christ turning a blind eye to sin, and we shouldn’t talk about it because it makes some people feel one pr two degrees less warm inside. This is a dangerous doctrine of modernism, and the truth is that Christ wills that all men be reconciled to Him, but we must take the initiative and ask for this reconciliation. We will not get want we do not want, nor what we do not ask for. The truth is, Christ’s compassion that is so famous lies in His forgiveness.

In the early centuries of the Church, penitents would gladly do public penance for the sake of this sacrament, yet we today stay away from confession because of, among other things, we’re going to be asked to say this simple prayer and that involves kneeling that isn’t absolutely required becuase of the consecration on Sunday morning. Another reason is that we just don’t think we’ve really done anything. I mean, hell, we havn’t robbed a bank! But even if we are not in a state of mortal sin, the Church requeires us to go to confession at least once a year, and it is this same Church that Christ gave authority to to bind and loose.

So not only must we approach and approach again this sacrament, we must do it with humility. Just before St. Matthew’s version of this story from the Gospel, we hear in Matthew chapter eight, verse eight, of the centurion who’s servant is sick. On the part of the centurion and the servant, there is the want and the request. Christ shows his compassion and says to the centurion, "I will come and cure him." But the centurion says "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." Let us emulate the humility of this centurion in realizing our unworthiness, and like the people of Judea who were plagued with possesion and disease, realize our desperate need for this especially in our world today where you may be saved from human disease but not from the spiritual decays of sensuality and complacency.