Last week we re-introduced the diocesan wide Lenten initiative “The Light is On For You.” Each church in our diocese is open on Wednesday nights during Lent for those who wish to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession or Penance, whichever words resonates in you. I like the word reconciliation meaning that we want to reconcile ourselves, first in our hearts, second with others and always to reconcile with God who holds us in such high esteem.
Each of us learned about the sacrament of reconciliation at an early age, maybe at an age too young to fully appreciate the power of this healing sacrament. When we were seven or eight years old, our sins were minor, disobeying our parents, saying bad words, hitting our brothers and sisters, and once in a great while missing Mass. We were introduced to the sacrament to know that God in Christ is always there for us. God is like a beacon guiding ships into safe harbor from the stormy seas. Jesus is a like a light illumining our paths and showing us the way to come home.
Today in the liturgy, Tuesday of the 2nd week of Lent, Isaiah the prophet speaking for God challenges the people to “put away your misdeeds before my eyes, cease doing evil.” This is a precursor to the sacrament of reconciliation, turning away from sin and turning towards God. The prophet goes on, “learn to do the good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, and defend the widow.”
In other words turning back to God is saying more than “I’m sorry” or as we often say “sorry.” Turning back to God means that we are open to receiving his restorative, healing grace that wipes away our sin, so that even “though your sins may be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” When we admit our sins to God through the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation, we are forgiven, restored, made whole so that we, as Matthew Kelly says we can, “be the best version of ourselves” with God’s grace and life. We make a firm purpose of amendment not to sin and then hear the power of the words of absolution as the priest prays ….“I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
When we put our selfishness aside and consider the needs of others, doing good for others, helping the orphan through Operation Rice Bowl, defending and aiding the widow we are doing God’s work. We are becoming new people in Christ. Jesus found the words and ritual actions of some of the Scribes and Pharisees hollow and empty because there was no principle behind their words, all their actions were just for show.
When we take the risk of coming before Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation, we will find a new sense of peace in our hearts. We will find the healing power of God’s merciful love. We will find that we have new meaning and purpose in our lives. Because I will be assisting in dad’s transition to memory care on Wednesday, March 2nd, I invite those who wish to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation that evening to go to one of our neighboring parishes.
The light is on for you to experience God’s healing, abiding merciful love through confession. Don’t wait until the last minute to avail yourself of this precious sacrament. Welcome Home! Welcome to receive God’s healing mercies.