The three most powerful words

by Marlon De La Torre

North Texas Catholic

5/23/2018


In Proverbs 3:5-6, Solomon urges us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and not rely on our insight. The serenity of this simple counsel is meant to guide man to acknowledge God before ourselves, as only God can make our paths straight and clear. 

Topping this short examination of conscience is the call to be not wise in our own eyes, fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (3:7-8).

Solomon’s wisdom and counsel perfectly illustrates the perpetual opportunity God provides to seek His guidance and direction in all things. By following this simple spiritual exercise, we gain an ability to see Christ more clearly within our daily life.

The Fear of Change
The human condition is easily conditioned to seek something other than Christ. Look no further than Israel’s actions after the parting of the Red Sea, their impatience with Moses speaking with God, and the construction of the golden calf (Exodus 32). These examples state the obvious of our ancestor’s human condition; they could not let go of the past and their carnal urges were so strong within them that it drove them to live apart from God. One unique repercussion of Israel’s behavior was the extent of God’s mercy toward His children and the disciples He chose to exhibit His mercy on earth. 

Jesus the Divine Physician
A characteristic of Christ we often gloss over is that of a Divine Physician – not only a healer of the body, but primarily a healer of the soul. He redirected man to initiate an intimate relationship with Him as witnessed in His discourse on true greatness (Mk 9:33-37) or forgiving the sinful woman (Lk 7:36-50). These examples reveal Christ’s genuine desire to unite His children to Him and heal any impediment, physical or spiritual, that would hinder a genuine friendship with the Good Doctor. 

Addressing the Fear of Confession
Confession is probably the sacrament seen with the most disdain because the mere mention of the word or its equivalent (e.g., penance, conversion, forgiveness, reconciliation) calls the person to break away from their current state of being, to cease those habitual acts that are distancing oneself from Christ.

Jesus calls us to conversion; penance calls us to acknowledge our need to repent; forgiveness allows us to seek absolution; and reconciliation imparts on us God’s love (CCC 1424). By our baptism we are called continually to seek a conversion of heart as a way to embrace the love of Christ and His Church and dispel those fears that draw us away from Him. Keep in mind St. Peter’s denial thrice over was met with an infinite gaze of mercy from Christ. He absolved him right on the spot without hesitation.

I Absolve You
The journey toward absolution requires a contrite heart and confessing our sins. It is a free and genuine desire to seek healing for transgressions against God, His children, and the Church universal. Confession to a priest is part of the essential rite of the Church where one can validly seek reconciliation from his or her sins (Jn 20:20-23, 2 Cor 5:18)

St. Augustine reminds us “whoever confesses his sins… is already working with God….When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light” (CCC 1458).

The effect of absolution within the rite of penance is reconciliation with God and the Church. It places us in the position to reject the path of death and embrace the path of life. The three most beautiful words that can bring immediate healing and release the bondage of anyone struggling with the weight of sin and its horrific effects are the words of absolution: “I absolve you.” 

Absolution conferred by the priest in persona Christi reflects Christ’s mercy as exhibited to St. Peter and directs us to sin no more, knowing that we still possess the inclination to sin due to the fall. 

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Marlon De La Torre, is the Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Fort Worth and writes articles on catechesis, evangelization, and Christian spirtuality at KnowingIsDoing.org.

​In Proverbs 3:5-6, Solomon urges us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and not rely on our insight. The serenity of this simple counsel is meant to guide man to acknowledge God before ourselves, as only God can make our paths straight and clear. 

Published (until 5/23/2035)
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