First, imagine that you live in the time of Jesus. Next, imagine that you have come to believe that Jesus is who he claims to be, namely, God. Then, you begin to ponder the state of your soul. You realize that in many ways you have sinned against God and the humanity God created. It suddenly occurs to you that the very God you have sinned against is in town, right now, in the flesh. What would you do?
Hopefully, you would go into town and find Jesus. You would seize the opportunity that awaits you. It might require some effort on your part, however. You would probably need to make the journey on foot. When you finally arrived in town, you would need to figure out where to find Jesus. Is he walking the streets? Is he staying in someone’s home? Is he preaching at the Temple or outside of town? After some searching and polling of the locals you finally figure out where he is.
Once you get to his location you see that he is surrounded by many obstacles. There are people all around him. You must find a way to get through. After squeezing and prying your way through the crowd you at last find yourself face to face with Jesus. He looks at you as if he has been expecting you. He seems to know the effort it took for you to be there before him. Then he waits.
Jesus knows that “out of the mouth flows the intents of the heart,” so he waits. He waits for you to open your mouth. He already knows what is in your heart, but he wants you to say it. Jesus, the “Word made flesh” wants you to use your fleshy mouth to form the words of your heart and convey them to his ears of flesh. He wants to hear you say, in your own words, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
As you speak the words, you sense that every syllable, every inhale and exhale of breath is releasing something you have been holding in. Even your body language, the nonverbal expression of your message, reveals the depth of your heart as it pours out to Jesus, seeking new life and restoration. At last, you have come to Jesus with all of your physical and spiritual being.
Finally, you raise your fleshy eyes to his. Your ears of flesh hear his mouth of flesh declare with God’s authority, “Be at peace. Your sins are forgiven!”
Transport to present day. We still live in the time of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am with you always.” He still wants us to share our hearts with him through fleshy means. So, he gave his own authority to fleshy men. “As the Father sent me, so I send you. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven. Whose sins you retain are retained.” We still get to speak the words and hear his forgiveness. And it still requires a degree of physical effort. We have to find a time and a place to meet with a priest who stands in for Christ as we confess to God. We still have to push through the obstacles. We still need to feel the humility that can only come from speaking out loud to another.
Of course, we can pray to God anywhere anytime. God is everywhere. But, Jesus wants our relationship with him to be more than a spiritual, “telepathic” sort of communication on a golf course, at home or even in a church. Jesus became a human being. He wants us to be in full relationship with him, body and spirit. When we hurt someone, we should apologize to them in person whenever possible. Jesus makes it possible through the Sacrament of Confession. Jesus is still in town. Go meet with him and tell him what’s on your heart, in the flesh. That’s how he made you. That’s how he wants to meet with you.