The beginning of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mk 1: 1-5)

So from the beginning the “good news” was somehow connected to people voluntarily “going out” and “confessing their sins.” Why?

Because we make “His paths straight” in our hearts by cleaning house; by speaking out truthfully about the “sin” in our lives (that is, our “amartia” in Greek, which means “missing the mark”), so that we can move on and head towards “the mark,” which is communion with Jesus Christ and the rest of His world. He accepts me as I am, together with my whole baggage of “sins,” but He also takes their “sting” away, so they don’t drag me down anymore, in self-isolation. He carries them with me, when I share them in “confession,” in His one Body that is the Church.

Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin…” (1 Cor 15: 55-56), I can say today with the Apostle, with no fear or need for escape. Because I can pick up the tool given to me in my Tradition, from the very beginning of the “good news,” of confession. Let me clear away what I’ve been hoarding in my “house,” and put it where it belongs, in His hands, so I can move forward in this New Year, free of the “sting” of the past.

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