When sin makes us ‘unclean,’ confession can heal

| Jeff Hedglen | February 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

A while back when I went to shake my friend’s hand, he pulled back and said he was sick and didn’t want to spread his germs. I said, “Thanks,” and just waved at him as we took our seats.

This is a common practice, wash your hands and avoid contact during flu season. The Church even implements similar protocols. Now imagine what it would be like if every time you were visibly sick, you had to yell out, “Unclean, unclean!” when someone came close to you.

This was the reality of people with a variety of ailments in biblical times. This week’s readings relate two stories of people with leprosy. Leviticus reveals the law that demanded an unclean person announce this to all those around them. In the Gospel, Jesus cures a man who had leprosy and afterward instructs him to go show himself to the priest to be proclaimed clean.

Thankfully, modern medicine has led us to a point where illness is not seen as being unclean. But there is another ailment that we all are afflicted with that does make us unclean, and this is sin.

Try as we might to avoid it, sin impacts each of our lives and, as a result, makes us spiritually in need of a cleansing. Lucky for us, the Church offers the sacrament of reconciliation so we can “show ourselves to the priest” and by the power of God be made clean.

Lent starts this week. It is a season of repentance, a time to look within ourselves for the areas that need a little extra cleaning. The 40-day journey through the spiritual desert culminates with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. In a very real way we take our sins and failures through the desert and offer them to Jesus on the cross.

Whenever I head into the confessional, I feel very much like the leper in the Scriptures: unclean. But I also leave just like the leper who was healed by Jesus, because that is exactly what happens.

This CNS column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.


Sunday, Feb. 15
Sixth Sunday in ordinary time


  • Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

How are you preparing for Lent this year?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures