Self-DeceptionFr. Barnabas Powell
In less than 7 days we will enter Holy Week; a time of intensified fasting and prayer and preparation for Pascha. It is never too late to start. It is never too late to intensify your struggle. It is never too late to learn to repent and grow. It is never too late until it is too late!
And this is the theme of today’s scripture reading in Genesis. We read the story of Jacob and his older brother Esau. Jacob and Esau were “twins” born moments apart with Esau being the firstborn. Isaac, their father, favored Esau because Esau was a real “man’s man.” He was a great hunter and fighter. He was a powerful and imposing man. But Jacob was favored by his mother, and Jacob wasn’t like Esau at all.
It came time for Isaac to leave this world so he called his son Esau and asked him to go and hunt and bring back a favorite meal for his dying father and then Isaac would bestow the firstborn’s blessing on Esau. This would solidify Esau as the head of the family and the ruler of the clan. Esau did what he was told, but there was intrigue going on behind the scenes. Jacob and his mother conspired to steal the birthright from Esau and trick Isaac into believing Jacob was Esau so he would get the blessing instead of his moments older brother, and they succeeded. You can read all about it in Genesis 27:1-41. It’s a great story.
Jacob became a great man but he was often plagued by his tendencies to be “shrewd” with the truth. One of the powerful lessons we learn from St. Mary of Egypt yesterday was her willingness to be completely honest about herself after she confronted her own sinfulness. This struggle we have with an internal honesty is the greatest stumbling block to our own spiritual maturity and our own emotional and spiritual freedom.
This is why confession and the gift of the Divine Mystery of reconciliation is so vital to our spiritual growth. The wisdom of the Church giving us this path to spiritual freedom through confession is absolutely necessary if we are ever going to overcome the all-too-easy self-deception that imprisons each of us. The truth is I am either too hard or too easy on myself when I try to self-diagnose my own sins. I need the wisdom of a father to help guide me through the fog of my own self-deception.
As we approach Holy Week, when was your last confession? There is still time to contact your spiritual father and make the time necessary to embrace the abundance of grace just waiting for you in the ministries of the Church.