INTRO: Years ago in my first years as a priest, I was hearing school kids confessions…
Children were coming to me FACE TO FACE and I watched this third grader…. Really prim and proper… hands folded in the best expression of holiness … smiling … and sits down.
We made the sign of the cross together and I welcomed her and then explained briefly to her that in this sacrament you “speak to Jesus”!
“What is it you want to tell him now…. about your sins?”
She began with this nervous look as if I never heard this before..
“Well, I was MEAN to my mom… and then she sort of giggled and said: A LOT!!!!”
The next “sin” was hitting her brother… also A LOT!!!
Apparently she was instructed to mention to the priest how many times she sinned ….and she couldn’t count that HIGH!!!
It’s the LENTEN season and for us in this diocese there is AN EVENING OF CONFESSIONS scheduled on WEDNESDAY, February 28th from 5pm until 8pm.
Jesus says today…his first words to the people as he begins his public ministry…
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
What I make of that is…it’s the first Sunday of lent and MY first WORDS should be to you…. Like Jesus’s..
“GO TO CONFESSION THIS YEAR!”
Why do I have to confess to a priest? BIG QUESTION IN MANY YOUNG AND OLD PEOPLES MINDS.
All of you know that … you can just tell God you are sorry and he will forgive ….
THAT’s TRUE, but, if I can just remind you,
You registered in the parish or if you are visiting us today you perhaps registered in a parish…anyway
CATHOLIC PARISHES are “communities”. You registered into a COMMUNITY of brothers and sisters. You didn’t register to be by yourself in church. There is supposed to be a recognizable bond with the persons in front of you and behind you. We are a community. We are family.
Saint Paul taught that… the family is many parts but ONE BODY and when one part of the body “sins” the ONE BODY is broken, the community has a fracture.
So as a catholic our concerns should be to try and keep that ONE BODY whole and un-fractured.
The reason why Confessing to the Priest is so important, (began on Easter Sunday by Christ for priests to do this)
He is ONE OF THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS and he is also the mediator of God’s grace in the absolution prayer that UNITES the BODY back into WHOLENESS. He reconciles the penitent. He brings the penitent back into wholeness from being fractured.
In a beautiful way you go to confession NOT JUST FOR YOURSELF, but, for the community to be whole again, to be ONE BODY!!!!
So, this year REPENT, help yourselves and our community to be ONE BODY.