7 January, Friday — Seeking reconciliation with God

7 Jan – Memorial for St. Raymond of Penyafort, priest

St. Raymond (1175-1275) was of Aragonian nobility. He was educated at the cathedral school in Barcelona, and became a philosophy teacher at the age of 20. He was a priest. He graduated from law school in Bologna, Italy, and joined the Dominicans in 1218. He was summoned to Rome in 1230 by Pope Gregory IX, and assigned to collect all official letters of the popes since 1150. Raymond gathered and published five volumes, and helped write Church law.

He was made Master General of the Dominicans in 1238. He reviewed the Order’s Rule, made sure everything was legally correct, then resigned his position in 1240 to dedicate himself to parish work. The pope wanted to make Raymond an archbishop, but he declined, instead returning to Spain and the parish work he loved. His compassion helped many people return to God through Reconciliation.

During his years in Rome, Raymond heard of the difficulties missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain. Raymond started a school to teach the language and culture of the people to be evangelized. With St. Thomas Aquinas, he wrote a booklet to explain the truths of faith in a way non-believers could understand. His great influence on Church law led to his patronage of lawyers.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Jn 5:5-13
Lk 5:12-16

…if you want to, you can cure me.”

During the Advent season that just passed, parishes in Singapore were able to resume penitential services after last year’s pandemic situation prevented them from taking place. It was reported that people queued for hours to receive the sacrament during walk-in sessions, and a priest in my parish sounded impressed when he mentioned the lists of sins written on paper that some penitents prepared. Perhaps this high demand for the sacrament was a result of prolonged deprivation combined with the affordance of time for reflection. In spite of the availability of this precious opportunity to reconcile with God, I was not exactly enthused. In the weeks and days before the service, I gave myself all kinds of excuses to avoid acknowledging my sins to myself and before the priest. I even thought about cancelling my booking of the slot for the service. Along the way, I was aware that I lacked a truly repentant heart, most likely an outcome of a deficient prayer life. Fortunately, after making deliberate efforts at prayer, I was able to receive the sacrament with sincerity.

In today’s Gospel reading, the man afflicted with leprosy made a desperate plea to Jesus to heal him. He made an act of faith in proclaiming that if it is Jesus’ will, He can heal him. In response, Jesus not only healed him, He did it through physical touch. In those days, no Jew in their right mind would touch a leper as it would immediately render them spiritually unclean. But Jesus did the unthinkable. He connected with the leper in his hopelessness and shame, and purified him through an action that was supposed to be impure. With that, the former leper was restored to his place in the community, obtaining a privilege denied to all who had diseases that rendered them ritually unclean.

I have heard Catholics question the point of confession when they keep repeating the same sins. But the sacrament of reconciliation does not remove our sins or cure us of our spiritual ailments. As the name implies, it enables us to be reconciled with God and the Church so that we may be fully open to the abundance of His divine grace. Rejecting the importance of confession is akin to rejecting the notion that we need to constantly turn away from sin towards God. During this uncertain and difficult period where opportunities for confession are not readily available, it becomes tempting to neglect our need for reconciliation with God. This neglect could mark the beginning of a slippery slope towards spiritual apathy. There is no easy way out — only the maintenance of a consistent prayer life can keep us on the path to a true transformation of self in His image.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

PrayerWe pray for a humble heart of repentance, and that we can recognise the areas in our lives that are separating us from God.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during these challenging times.

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