“God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.” ~ 1 John 5:12
In today’s 1st Reading (1 John 5:5-13) John proclaims that Jesus is the one who came from water and blood, not by water alone. Sealed with the Holy Spirit and baptized by way of the waters of the Jordan, it was through the blood of his sacrifice on the cross that Jesus conquered sin. The Spirit, water, and blood are of one accord for they all testify to the truth.
Eternal life is granted to those who possess the Son through the Father, for through this union they are sealed in the truth. The victor of the world, as John puts it, is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Those who endure rejection, those who desire wisdom, those who forgive, and those who display patience and humility proclaim by virtue of their actions that Jesus is the Son of Man.
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean!”
These were the words of the leprosy-riddled man who encountered Jesus in today’s Gospel (Luke 5:12-16). “I do will it” was Jesus’ immediate response prior to sending the man off cleansed of his leprosy. One can’t help but draw a parallel between the leper in today’s Gospel and those with the wisdom to regularly take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. An act of humility and frank self-awareness, we are encountering Jesus in the person of the priest with our simple yet powerful plea:
”Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
We partake of this Sacrament not only for the forgiveness of our sins but for the divine graces that accompany it. We grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We grow in our love for Jesus, the divine physician who atoned for our iniquities. Through acts of contrition, our prayer life becomes more vibrant. Perhaps we even become more charitable. Certainly more hopeful and joyful.
Those on the other hand who rationalize away their sins or obstinately and remorselessly remain mired in their disordered behavior will never experience these graces, these gifts from our Father. Truth be told, their plight is worse than that of the leper. Being afflicted with and remaining uncleansed of leprosy has never in and of itself caused one to lose one’s salvation.
In her seminal writing Divine Mercy In My Soul, Saint Faustina recorded this conversation in her diary based on an encounter she had with Jesus on the topic of reconciliation and forgiveness:
“Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.”
...bathed in the water and blood of the one who came through both water and blood.