Imagine being isolated from those around you. Living daily with an illness that slowly eats away at your life. Nobody gets close to you, touches you, or even looks at you. Left to a life where your body is becoming crippled and will diminish until your death. In the time of Christ and for many years after, hundreds of people suffered from a disease called Leprosy. This was their fate, a permanent suffering, a physical death while they where alive. Unfortunately this disease is still present amongst us today, but in a different form. Every time we sin, every time we act against the word of God we cast upon ourselves the same fate as those with Leprosy. We bear the burden of having a stained soul, a stained life, a life of impurity. Isolated from the community of being baptized children of God. We are taught that we confess our sins to a priest in order to remove the sin from our souls, but we question that teaching because we have God to confess our sins to and be forgiven by.
I have always thought that if God created everything and is all knowing and all healing why go to a priest when I can go directly to Him? In the New Testament, we find people going directly to Jesus with their burdens as opposed to going to a priest. At the beginning of Matthew Chapter 8 we see this happen;
“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Here we have a person going directly to Jesus with his inequity asking to be healed, and Jesus heals him and answers his prayers. However, Christ then turns around and tells him, “show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift Moses commanded”. Therefore, just as much as we know that God is there and that he heals and answers our prayers, we also know that he asks us to show ourselves to the priest. In the time of Christ, it was the Priest who determined if a person was considered cleansed from their leprosy(Lev14). Likewise, the priests of the Church can guide us on a path of purification and offer with and for us the sacrifice to God which will bring us back into our community.
This is the sacrament of confession, confession with a priest; this is offered to us every time we step into a church, every time we see a priest, every time we fall off the path God laid down for us. We have the luxury of going to a priest, a person who has fully dedicated himself to God’s community to help guide us, instruct us, and lead us back home. We can ask for forgiveness and another chance, all we want from God, and he gives it to us. But if we don’t have someone who can teach us, tell us where we were wrong, where we fell and what caused us to fall, and how to get up and not fall again, then we become just like the lepers set astray and left hopeless. God laid down a path for you to walk down, and just as much as it was your choice to leave that path, it has to be our choice to get back on it. It starts with confession. Take time to heal yourself of the inequities in your life and get back on the path God laid out for you.