Homily — 3rd Sunday Lent A Feb. 24, 2008

Homily — 3rd Sunday Lent A Feb. 24, 2008

This past fall, at my semi-annual checkup, the dentist took an X-Ray of my front teeth, which I guess is something they only do once every 10 years or so.

Now, if there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s good dental hygiene. I brush twice a day, and floss before I go to bed; I think in the past 15 years I’ve had only one cavity filled.

So I was really shocked when at the end of my cleaning, the dentist looked at the X-Ray of my front teeth and said “Oh, that one looks blown out. I think it’s too far gone for a root canal; you’ll probably have to get it taken out.”

I couldn’t believe it. I said to him “But it doesn’t even hurt me.”

He said “you better make an appointment with the specialist as soon as possible — maybe he can still save it.” And he gave me a referral to see this oral surgeon for a root canal.

But a few weeks later, the morning that I’m scheduled for the root canal, the oral surgeon’s office calls me up and says “I’m sorry, but the doctor says your tooth is too far gone, you’re going to have to make a new appointment for an extraction.”

Well, this was not looking good. I tried one last time, saying “Tell the dentist that it’s not hurting me at all — ask him if I just keep it in and maybe it’ll never bother me.”

The receptionist came back to the phone a minute later and said “He said you better be pro-active with it, because if you’re not, and it starts bothering you, not only will it be the worst toothache you can imagine, it will also be a much worse problem to fix.”

And so, early last month, I went down the road to Dr. Domingo’s office to get this bad front tooth of mine pulled.

So they put me in the dentists chair, the Dr. comes in and shakes my hand, and then he gives me a good shot of Novocaine which numbed my whole mouth up. And then, . . . . well, I’ll spare you the rest of the details of what happened next!

Now, getting a tooth pulled without getting put to sleep wasn’t physically painful for me at all;

What was Psychologically painful was the thought that this nice front tooth of mine, which for the past 40 years I’ve smiled at people with, and bit into apples with, and which never caused me any problems was being brutally yanked out of me never to be there again.

And right after it had been extracted, I guess the Doctor noticed I looked a bit pale, because he said to me in a soothing voice: “You feeling a little light headed Father?” “Yeah, a little” I said.

And before I knew it, he had reclined the chair all the way back so I was laying down flat, and two nurses were swooping down on me, one with a moist facecloth for my forehead and one with an oxygen mask for my nose.

And so I laid there, taking a couple deep breaths of oxygen, and after a few minutes I felt much better, and then they put the fake one in and I went home.

And here I am a month later (smile). And so far, it hasn’t fallen out while I’m preaching just like they promised me wouldn’t!

Now, you may be thinking “Father, how does all that have anything to do with our Faith? Well, it has everything to do with what’s going on later this week at our parish.

This Saturday, March 1, we are having our 5th Annual All Day Confessions from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. here in the Church. Two to four priests will be available at all times those 8 hours next Saturday to hear your confession — that’s your confession.
And getting to confession for many of us, maybe for most of us, is like pulling teeth — in more ways than one.

In the bulletin this weekend, inside this booklet called “A guide to Confession,” you will find an X-Ray of your soul.

There it is: “An Aid to Your Examination of Conscience.” There’s the 10 Commandments — think of them as Ten “Teeth” God has given you to keep clean and healthy. And under each commandment is a list of ways a person can commonly sin against that Commandment. All total is listed 54 sins which definitely bring serious spiritual decay upon our Soul.

And just as my dentist needed to say to me “You see that spot on that tooth there on the X-Ray? That one’s going to need to be extracted;” So I as your priest need to say to some of you “You see this sin you committed against this commandment here? That’s going to need to be extracted by a good confession.”

And so for those of you who need it, I want to refer you to one of a dozen or so specialists who will be available this coming Saturday March 1st : here they are listed in this week’s bulletin: (list priests)

All of these specialists will make the extraction of those sins of yours as painless as possible.

But we still realize that a kind priest is not enough. For some of us, going to confession is even more intimidating an experience than going for dental surgery. And so because of this, to nurse you along, we’ll have soothing sacred music playing softly in the Church all day, we’ll have big signs telling you clearly where to wait for each priest, we’ll have easy to follow instructions on how to go to confession if it’s been a long time, we’ll have the option of screens set up in every confessional if you choose to be anonymous and not go face to face, we even now have two dozen people, including a dozen cloistered nuns, praying daily for you to make that Confession you’ve put off for so long.

And best of all, to help you before, during, and after your confession, we have Jesus here in the Blessed Sacrament looking after you, so happy that you’re being reconciled to Him.

So, do yourself a favor. Take ten or twenty minutes out of your day next Saturday, March 1st, some time between 8 am and 4 pm, bring this X-Ray with you, and let one of the good Fathers there treat you before it’s too late and that sin really becomes a problem, perhaps an eternal problem.

And I promise you that unlike me, after your sins have been extracted, you’ll leave that confessional with all the teeth you came in with, and a Big Smile on your face as well! 🙂

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