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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Feb. 12, 2012

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

February 12, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11

2) 1 Corinthians 10:31 to 11:1

Gospel: Mark 1:40-45

My first confession was probably my best. I don't mean this as conceit. It's just that when I went to the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time -- at age 34 -- I felt myself carrying a sizable burden of sin. I'd always believed in a loving, merciful God. But I'd never before made a conscientious examination of my sinfulness.

As I prepared to enter the Catholic Church, my understanding of my faith grew, and my relationship with Christ deepened. When I went to reconciliation that first time, my belief that Jesus would forgive all my failings -- including some very serious sin -- was unshakable. As I painstakingly named my sins and heard the priest speak the words of absolution, I physically felt the burden lift. I felt clean.

I went into that confession with the same belief that the leper in this weekend's Gospel had when he said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." The Lord's response in the sacrament also was the same: compassion and mercy. I sensed it without doubt.

The cleansing of the leper in Mark's Gospel, of course, symbolizes Jesus' power to remove our sinfulness. The passage from Leviticus in Sunday's readings emphasizes that we must acknowledge it. As long as a person bears the "sore," he must declare himself unclean, the Scripture explains, adding that the unclean one must dwell apart.

So it is that when our sin remains, it infects everything and everyone around us, isolating us from the love of God.

I have to admit that since that first time, I haven't always prepared so well for the sacrament of reconciliation. Consequently, I haven't felt its power so acutely. Often I avoid admitting to certain sins, stubbornly unwilling to declare that I'm unclean. However, when I open myself to truly believing that God can make me clean if he wishes, then I have the courage to ask him to help me wish it, too.

The first step is healing my unbelief.


Is there some sin in your life that you avoid admitting? What do you most need from God to help you believe he can make you truly clean?


"I do will it. Be made clean" (Mark 1:41).


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