Some of us may have a junk drawer in our room that we don’t really want other people to know about. When someone knocks on our door stray papers and miscellaneous objects are quickly deposited into these hiding places. And with these distractions out of sight, our room appears orderly, and guests get a good impression. Still, just out of view is evidence of at least some degree of disorder.
This kind of quick, easy, and superficial remedy can give us an image of what our spiritual life can be like. It can be tempting to clean the “outside of the cup” instead of tending to the inside. The fact is that if we don’t take care of what is inside of us, we risk becoming bound to the same sins we commit over and over again.
We all know that it’s easier to manage our image than it is to deal with our flaws and shortcomings. It’s easier to focus on what we have done wrong than it is to examine why we do the things we do. But this is exactly what we need to do if we want to experience freedom in our lives. Only by getting to the root causes of our sins will we be able to overcome them and so draw closer to God.
This emphasis on root causes and self-examination is at the heart of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We all know that Confession cleanses us from our past sins. But there is more to this sacrament—which the Catechism calls a sacrament of healing (CCC 1421) it’s more than simply dusting off our sins. If we were to examine our motives, our attitudes, and our philosophies of life, then we would probably find aspects of our lives that need God’s healing.
Approaching the sacrament in this way can help bring order and peace to our inner lives so that we won’t be so susceptible to temptation. God wants to heal us and restore us, not just forgive us. He wants to make us into a people set apart for him. And for that to happen, we need to look at the “inside” as well as the “outside” of our lives.