Newsletter for Sunday 24 October 2021

22 Oct

Lord, that I may See

The faith and trust that blind Bartimaeus had in JESUS in today’s Gospel (Mark 10:46-52) is an example of what our faith and trust should be. He humbly begged JESUS to have pity on him and trusted enough in His divine power to know that his sight would be restored. “Master, let me see again” was his plea. The fact that we might have good vision doesn’t necessarily mean we see what is most important in life. In caring for blind Bartimaeus, Our Lord is telling us that even worse than physical blindness is spiritual blindness. And we can all suffer from it, but Our Lord wants to cure us of this and prevent us from stumbling around in darkness.

We all need God’s mercy and the best way to receive it is in the Sacrament of Penance or Confession. Today’s Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (5:1-6) speaks of how the high priest offered sacrifices to God hoping to receive forgiveness of the people’s sins. This symbolic act becomes real in the Sacrament of Penance which Our Lord instituted on the first Easter Sunday for His Church (John 20:22-23).

It is sometimes said that priests speak too much about Confession and sin. I believe the contrary is true – the more sin there is in the world, the less we seem to hear about it, even in church, because it is somehow regarded as ‘negative psychology’. People don’t like to hear the word ‘sin’. But this is very unwise, because the only thing that can cause us to lose Heaven is mortal sin. For a priest to never speak of sin, the necessity of Confession, or to water down Christ’s teachings is to fall into the devil’s trap. What would people think of a doctor who didn’t care about disease, who never spoke about it and didn’t care about the physical well being of his patients? Suppose someone with very obvious symptoms of a serious illness came to him and he just said, “Oh, you’ll be fine. Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with you”, he would be guilty of grave negligence and would probably be sued. The patient in this instance would only lose his physical life, but failure to speak out about sin and the need for Confession is even more serious because people could lose their immortal souls.

‘Repentance’ is one of the most frequently used words in Scripture. Our Lord’s first words upon beginning His public ministry were, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). This means each of us needs to recognise the reality of sin in our lives, turn away from it and live according to God’s Will. This might even mean having to change our opinions on certain things. It certainly means seeking God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Penance with a real sense of sorrow for having offended Him.

So never think that Confession is something to be avoided and put off at all costs. Many think they don’t need it. This is a form of spiritual blindness which is actually much worse than the physical blindness of Bartimaeus because it could cost us eternal salvation. If it’s been many years and you have forgotten how to go to Confession, there are leaflets at the back of the church with an examination of conscience to help you. The priest will always guide you if you feel unsure about what to say. Don’t put it off any longer.

Bartimaeus said, “Master, that I may see again”, and his request was granted. If by going to Confession we say, “Lord, I want to recognise my sinfulness, I want Your forgiveness, and I want to grow in Your grace,” Our Lord will look upon us with favour and be only too pleased to grant us His mercy and His blessings. In addition to Saturday mornings, we will now offer the Sacrament of Confession at 6pm on Friday evenings before the 6.30pm Mass.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

Synod questions (to be answered by 31 October 2021):

  1. What is my dream for the Church, for the parish so that it can become more outward looking, more missionary?
  2. To achieve this dream, what do we need to stop doing? What are we doing that needs to be developed or done differently?

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