The just man sins seven times a day the Sacred Scriptures tell us. Jesus says: “But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man.” In our society, we seem to have quite the difficulty in identifying our own sins. But as a society we have no problem identifying the sins of others. How easy it is for us to categorize the other! Here is the paradox of our day. We call evil, good and good, evil. We call murder, choice; sexual sins, personal fulfillment; and we call faith, bigotry. Even after we erase the notion of sin, we go on to invent new sins with which to shame and accuse one another. For we have lost our horror of sin, except when we see it in another person. We are good at judging the sins of others, and we are blind to our own sinfulness. I can’t tell you how many times I hear something like the following: “I don’t really have any big sins, I mean I’m not a murderer, I’m basically a good person. I’m sure I have faults, of course, but I couldn’t recall what they are really.” Nevertheless, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
What is this judgment seat? What does it look like? Many of us may think of God like a judge seated above us, perhaps wearing black robes, reading from a list of our actions and then proclaiming sentence upon our lives. There is some truth to this. We will be judged on every action, every thought and every word. But it will not be because heaven is an exclusive club and God only wishes to keep company with the best sort. Rather, God is Eternal Truth, Infinite Goodness, Perfect Beauty. His Truth radiates from Himself into the hearts and minds of all who contemplate Him. This is the judgment: to stand in the light of His glory and see ourselves with perfect clarity, just as God sees us, just as we really are.
Every one of us has the scars, bruises and scrapes that come from simply living life. Some of them are caused by others, some are caused by ourselves. Jesus is able to heal them all. Some are wounds that go so deep, that only time and much prayer is able to heal them. The healing begins with asking the Lord to heal us of the guilt by going to confession. But perhaps the wound will still remain. Often it is necessary to forgive ourselves and even to pardon the person who wounded us. As much as we need to receive the pardon of the Lord, we equally need to give forgiveness to ourselves and others. The truths that we tell in the confessional and in our prayers help us to focus on the mercy, goodness and beauty of our Savior. The secrets that we keep locked away from the gaze of His mercy will go on to obscure for us the splendor of His love when we see Him face to face. Then we shall see ourselves just as we are with all our wounds. Will we recognize the mercy of our Savior in the glorious wounds of His Sacred Body or will we only shudder in horror at our own deformity?
By telling the truth about ourselves, forming our consciences, showing our wounds to the Savior, indeed, putting our wounds into His Wounds in the confessional, we receive forgiveness and come to know His Mercy. Only then can we also share with others the Beauty and Mercy of our Savior, without passing over the truth about sin.