I continue to read my Bible in a Year every day. I just finished reading the Book of Kings, chapters 18 and 19. These chapters introduce the prophet, Elijah. In this time, the Israelites had once again lost their way and turned to worship other gods such as Baal. Elijah demonstrated the falseness of Baal in a contest of seeing whose sacrifice would be consumed by fire — his or the priests of Baal. After winning that contest in a dramatic fashion, the drought that had been plaguing the land for years ended.
You would think that after all the works of God Elijah demonstrated that the people would have been grateful. But instead, Elijah needed to flee for his life. Instead of being thankful that he called on God to end a drought, they were outraged that he exposed their beliefs in the false god, Baal. Instead of rejoicing in the truth, they hated him for exposing the lies.
I think we are often act similar to those who rejected Elijah even after witnessing the signs. Our desire to appear right often overshadows our willingness to change in light of new information. We hate admitting when we are wrong and would rather be miserable clinging to destructive practices than making an effort to change. In many cases, we choose the behaviors we’re used to instead of making the changes to follow God’s plan.
In the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus asks us to embrace the Kingdom of Heaven and to convert. Even more than Elijah, Jesus gave us numerous signs and miracles; more than enough reason to put our trust in him and convert from our sinful ways to his ways. And yet, despite the signs, we still sin. We are like the Israelites choosing false gods. We may know that those sins we commit ultimately lead to unhappiness and yet we do them anyway. When we pray the Third Luminous Mystery, we should ask for the courage to truly convert and turn from whatever “false gods” we have in our life whether that be greed, pride, envy, lust, and any other deadly sin.
Part of conversion is having the courage to admit when we are wrong. We have an opportunity to embrace God and turn away from sin whenever we receive the Sacrament of Confession. But like the Israelites, admitting when we’ve acted sinfully is difficult. No one likes to admit they’re wrong which is probably why confessionals sit empty, at least in the United States.
If you’ve been lucky, you’ve heard a priest tell you to go to confession. But that is easier said than done. It’s like telling someone who is out of shape that they just need to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. It’s not that we don’t know about confession, but many of us don’t have the courage or make it a priority to receive it. That’s where the Rosary comes in. Pray it regularly and ask Mary for the strength to go to confession. Like regular exercise, regular Rosary prayer will build spiritual strength and courage to more fully embrace all that God offers. That includes His grace and His mercy.