A One-Two Punch – Dcn. Kris Kuckelman

Dcn. Kris Kuckelman’s Homily January 31, 2021

“Our Gospel reading today emphasizes the fact that Jesus’ teaching differed from the teaching of the religious leaders of the day. He had a new teaching and he taught with authority. He didn’t flatter his audience as the scribes did and he also taught that if the people didn’t follow his teaching there would be adverse consequences. In today’s parlance, Jesus taught the objective truth and he didn’t engage in relativism. Then as now we humans don’t like to hear that we need to change. What we like to hear is that we’re fine. Still according to Mark’s Gospel…this exorcism couldn’t have been very pleasant to witness, but still that’s what Jesus did. He went right after the source of our misery and sin, the devil. Just like Jesus we should attack head on our sins. In the short term it’s easier to ignore or deny our sins, but in the long run, we’re always happier if we attack and try to rectify our sins. The Church provides us some tools to attack our sins and I’ll mention two today and the first is a daily examination of our conscience. We should all take just a few minutes each day either in the evening or maybe in the morning after and go through our day and identify those instances where we’ve sinned and even better than that, try to identify the reason why we’ve sinned. Typically we’ll notice that there are common things, susceptibilities or vulnerabilities that we have. For many of us, we sin when we’re hungry or we’re angry or we’re lonely or we’re tired, either physically or emotionally or mentally or we’re stressed or we’re scared about something like losing the esteem of others or losing some material thing or losing pleasure or comfort. We can remember these vulnerabilities by the acronym H.A.L.T.S: Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, being Tired, Stress or Scared. In addition we can have either persons or circumstances in our life that can cause us to tend to sin and it’s good to identify those and all of this is good because when we’re in the midst of any of those circumstances that we know causes us to be vulnerable to sin, we can be on our toes and we can make a determined resolution not to sin and a beautiful byproduct of this awareness is that we can understand better how other people in our lives can sin and it makes us more forgiving and less judgement.

The second tool that the Church gives us to attack our sins head on is frequent confession. In 1943, Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical and in that he listed the benefits of frequent confession:

  • Self-knowledge is increased
  • humility grows
  • bad habits are corrected
  • spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted
  • our conscience is purified
  • our will is strengthened
  • our self-control is attained and grace is increased

Like so many aspects of our spiritual journey, the more we put into confession the more we get out of it and before our confession we should always make a list of our sins (and that can be on paper if you’re old like me or that could be on your phone if you’re under 40) and that list can just be a summary of what you’ve discerned in your daily examination of conscience and you should take that list into the confession with you and if you do that and you make a heartfelt, contrite confession, you’ll receive both emotional and spiritual benefits. If it’s been a long time since you’ve been to confession and the whole idea seems intimidating and you don’t remember the process, please don’t worry about that. The priest will explain the process to you. If you don’t remember the act of contrition, don’t worry about that either and who knows, God might be more pleased with an act of contrition that’s heartfelt in your own words than some recited prayer that the Church has taught (nothing against the act of contrition as a wrote prayer).  If you’ve convinced yourself that you can confess your sins directly to Jesus just as well as you can to a priest, there’s one inconvenient question that you should ask yourself, why did Jesus establish this sacrament to be administered by his priests? We can not attain holiness unless we attack our sins head on and the Church gives us these two beautiful tools, a one-two punch, the daily examination of conscience and frequent confession.”