Confession: an encounter with the God of Mercy
Confessions tonight, 7 pm. I will be hearing Confessions tonight (7/14) in the Confession booths in the back left of the Church starting at 7:00.
We've had an excellent, ongoing discussion this week about Confession. Some great comments and questions have come in. One blogger wrote, "I was wondering one thing. How often should people go to confession? I know A LOT of people who don't go to confession because they find it too embarrassing".
If we think in general terms of what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is all about, what do we think of? Forgiveness ...confessing sins...reconciling with God...changing our lives. These are all true and good. But, I need something concrete that I can point to that will motivate me each time to swallow my pride, get over my embarrassment, and go before the priest to confess my sins. Is there one thing that will do that for me?
Jesus gave his life so that our sins would be forgiven: "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28). He suffered tremendously for each of us. He shed so much blood. He endured serious humiliation and mockery. He was spit on, whipped, slapped, and ridiculed by many people. He let himself be embarrassed for us.
Jesus endured all of this because we cannot bring about the forgiveness of sins on our own. In other words, it was necessary for God to become man and sacrifice himself on behalf of humanity for sins to be forgiven. The Jews tried for thousands of years to atone for sins by making sacrifices; Christ's sacrifice on the Cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to the Father for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever we go to Confession (once a month is recommended), we say, 'thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice'. We humble ourselves in front of Him because "he humbled himself for our humanity". He hung on the Cross for at least three hours so that, among other things, we would go to Confession.
Plus, when we go, it is Christ in the Confessional. We see the priest but it's really Jesus - he is the real minister of all the sacraments (see Mt 28:20). He knows all of our sins, and wants to free us of our guilt, shame, and slavery to sin.
He treats us as he did the (embarrassed) woman caught in adultery: "neither do I condemn you. Go [and] from now on do not sin any more" (Jn 8:11). This encounter with the God of Mercy changed her life! She went through a few moments of embarrassment and then experienced a joy she had never known. She experienced the joy of Christ's love and forgiveness... a lasting joy! If we risk a few moments of embarrassment, then we, too, will receive the reward of heavenly joy.