Our responsorial psalm this Sunday, Psalm 32, gives a superb depiction of the pathology of sin and repentance. Only a portion of the psalm is given in our readings this weekend, for the full picture you need to go and read the psalm as a whole. Here is what it says:
(v.1): “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
This speaks to the peace and inner joy we experience when we have made the step of confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness
(v3): “While I kept silence, my body wasted away, through my groaning all day long…my strength dried up as by the heat of summer.”
Who has not experienced that feeling of carrying a heavy weight around, of being listless, agitated, simply because we refuse to acknowledge our guilt and seek forgiveness from the Lord?
(v5): “Then I acknowledged my sin to you…and you forgave the guilt of my sin”
This is the moment of breakthrough, when we make the decision to humble ourselves, stop rationalizing away our sin, and go to confess it, and receive the words of absolution from the priest
(v7): “You surround me with glad cries of deliverance.”
Now, suddenly, we feel peace within, re-energized, able to move forward with our lives
(v8): “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go…Do not be like a horse or a mule, who has to be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you”
The Lord promises to guide us through his Spirit in the ways of holiness and righteousness. But something in us seems to want to resist and rebel, and go our own stubborn ways. Going regularly to the sacrament of reconciliation is a sure way to bring our recalcitrant spirits under the control of the Holy Spirit and prevent us languishing in the ways of sin and guilt.