This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan. In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin. For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance. While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession. He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart. These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.
Think about how you take care of your teeth. You brush and floss daily to keep them clean. However, every six months you also need to go to a dentist to have your mouth thoroughly inspected and cleaned by a professional. Seeing your dentist is not a sign of bad oral health. It’s not like the only people who need to see a dentist are those who do not brush regularly. Rather, everyone needs regular brushing and checkups or else our teeth will not be their strongest. Skipping the daily brushing routine or the checkups might lead to premature dentures.
What does this have to do with repentance besides the fact that most people would probably consider a trip to the dentist as some sort of penance? Like brushing your teeth, prayer must be part of your daily routine to keep your soul healthy. Regular prayer is your time to reflect on all those ways you have lived God’s will and offer Him thanksgiving. You also ask for strength and guidance to continue living a spiritually healthy life. Prayer serves as a little check to prevent sin from entering and decaying your soul. However, every so often you also need to see a professional to give your soul a thorough scrubbing away of sin. And that scrubbing is the Sacrament of Confession.
Just like how brushing alone isn’t enough to keep your teeth healthy, individual prayer alone is not enough to keep your soul healthy. You can’t completely fix the effects of sin with only individual prayer. There are instances where your soul requires the help of a professional in order to fix the spiritual decay that may be attacking and spreading within you. You may think that my analogy leads to the priest hearing your confession to be that professional who “fixes” your soul. However, the priest is merely the assistant. The real professional, the one who actually cleanses your soul of sin, is God. God works through the priest to clean your soul and restore it back to a clean and healthy state.
This mystery should remind us of John the Baptist’s message that we should “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Mt 3:3). Let us remember to be thoroughly repentant not just through our private prayers but also by receiving the sacrament of Confession. That way we clear out souls of everything that blocks us from fully receiving God’s graces. Instead of seeing confession as some sort of punishment, let us see it for what it really is — a gift. It is our chance to set things right, fix what is broken in our life, and build a stronger relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ. May we remember that it is through confession that we return to that pure innocence that we had at our Baptism. We return to that state of grace that God desires for all of us. So let us make the effort to go to Confession regularly (the Church says at least once a year) and live as true disciples of Jesus Christ. And you might want to pop in to see your dentist as well!
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