We live in a society that prides itself on independence. The very fabric of our great Nation is woven by the threads of self-government and self-accomplishments. Awards are given for “Person of the Year'', not “Group of the Year.” But we all know there are just sometimes we need help. There are just some things we can’t do by ourselves.
In the Gospel of Luke we hear, “There was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” (Luke 13.11)) It wasn’t until Jesus reached out His hand, touched her, and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity,” (Luke 13.12) that she was able to stand straight and praise God.
So many times, we are weighed down by the burdens of life so much that it is all we can do to ‘get through the day’ let alone raise ourselves up and look upward toward Heaven. When we spend our time bent over staring at the ground, even the joy of birds singing can pass us by. We know we need help, but we either can’t admit it, or we don’t know how to get help. Thankfully for us, God STILL reaches His hand to us, through His Church, and touches us and looses us from our infirmity. Jesus Christ has given us His Church to help raise us up and praise God.
As we continue along our journey, preparing our souls for Christmas, now is a good time for us to consider asking God to help raise us up. The Nativity Fast is designed to help lighten our burden, so that we can praise God. Fasting helps us to understand we need God. We need His mercy. We need His helping hand. We need His forgiveness. Without His forgiveness, our sins will continue to weigh us down. Without His forgiveness, we will keep looking down in shame, rather than looking up at God with praise.
Turning to the Church Jesus said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20.23) The Church has reached out her hand to us through the Mystery of Holy Confession so that we can hear the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” and we will be loosed from our infirmity and we can be raised up to praise God. But we can’t get there by ourselves; we need the Church.
Holy Confession is available every Friday afternoon until Christmas between 1 and 3 in the Saint Dionysios Chapel. No appointment is necessary. If you cannot come Friday afternoon, contact me and we can schedule a time during the week.