Let Jesus dispose of the garbage caused by sin

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Every week we put out our garbage for collection. If we didn’t put out our trash it would build up and begin to smell and it would become a dreadful mess and attract vermin. We know that we need to put out our garbage regularly or otherwise we will have problems. But there are also other pieces of trash that we can pick up during life that we need to dispose of. We can pick up pieces of junk when we sin and when people harm us. We also need to put out that garbage for collection. If we don’t put out that trash for collection it will also become a dreadful mess, a mess inside us, affecting our entire self. One example of someone who picked up garbage during the Holocaust was a Warsaw ghetto uprising leader who said afterwards of his bitterness towards the Nazis that if you licked his heart it would poison you (in Shoah, Claude Lanzmann’s documentary on the Holocaust). We hear talk of some illnesses being psychosomatic, they really are caused by stress or anger. We have the proverb, “a healthy mind in a healthy body” indicating that when we have peace of mind it also helps our body. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells us that people lived very long lives but as time went on their lives were shorter and shorter. Noah lived 950 years (Gen 9:29), Abraham lived only 175 years, Ishmael’s life was shorter again, he died at 137 years (Gen 25:17). While we do not take this literally it is teaching us something, giving us a message. As time went on sin increased in the world and peoples’ lives became shorter. It is to show us that sin affects all of life, not just the soul. It is to show us that body, mind and soul are connected, that we are not three separate compartments.

It is interesting that in the Gospel today (Mark 2:1-12) Jesus firstly forgives the man his sins and only then does he heal him of his paralysis. Jesus knew the paralytic needed interior healing before physical healing. He had to be healed from the inside out. And the most important healing is the interior healing, and the interior healing that man needed was forgiveness. There was something in his past that had not yet been fully resolved. Jesus took away all the rubbish the man had built up over the years and this prepared him for his external healing, being able to walk again.

So if you have garbage or junk in your life Jesus is waiting to take it from you. He will not take it from you by force; he will wait for you to go to him or open yourself to him. The motto chosen by the Catholic Church for the Jubilee 2000 was, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb 13:8) Because yesterday is the same as today for Jesus, he can walk back in time to when we got that rubbish and he can remove it and repair us. As we heard in our first reading,

“No need to recall the past,
no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed,
Even now it comes to light; can you not see it?” (Isa 43:18-19)

Jesus is waiting to do a “new deed” in your life anytime you turn to him. There is a beautiful line in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Jesus is talking and he says,

“Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person’s side.” (Rev 3:20)

Think of all the times that Jesus removed the garbage and junk from sinners in the Gospels. The woman who was a sinner washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). The tax-collectors and sinners were crowding round Jesus to listen to him (Luke 15:1). Jesus stayed in the house of Zacchaeus who was considered to be a great sinner (Luke 19:7).

I ask you to consider again the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to remove rubbish and garbage and junk from our lives. It is not the priest that you meet in Confession, it is Jesus you meet, and it is he who heals you during the sacrament. If we had eyes to see our souls I am convinced that we would see our souls transformed each time after we receive the sacrament. It is not just a sacrament that is meant for Holy Week and the week before Christmas. It is a sacrament for use all year round, grace is waiting for us all year round. Jesus is waiting for us every month in the sacrament. You know that the more effort you put into something the greater the reward or satisfaction afterwards. It is like that when we are preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The better we prepare, the more satisfied we feel afterwards because we used the sacrament as a genuine means of allowing Jesus to touch us, forgive us and to tell us to get up and walk again. “Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb 13:8) He can walk back in time to when we got that rubbish and he can remove it and repair us. As we heard in our first reading,

“No need to recall the past,
no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed,
Even now it comes to light; can you not see it?” (Isa 43:18-19)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More related material for the Seventh Sunday Year B

Related: We wash spiritually in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and are filled with Jesus’ Light

Open your heart to Jesus’ Mercy like Zacchaeus

Why confess sins to a priest?

Remove the weeds from your life instead of judging the weeds in others 2008

stories about God’s Mercy

stories about sin