Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Confession and the Divine Mercy

Jesus, I trust in you!

“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Risen from the dead, the Lord Jesus stood before his disciples on that Easter evening. These were the very disciples who denied him and abandoned him 2 nights before. The resurrection has vindicated him against his enemies and so the Lord had every right to reproach the apostles for their cowardice. But he did not do this. Instead, he greeted them with peace and then bestowed upon them power which no human being ever had – the power to forgive sins. No human being ever had this power for only God can forgive sins. And yet, on that evening, the Lord breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit who empowered them to forgive sins. This power to forgive sins is honored by heaven itself.

At the resurrection, the Lord Jesus, who was humiliated by suffering and death, was glorified: “I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.” He is the Glorious One who holds the keys to death and the netherworld – the keys to death that entered the world as a consequence of sin.  He now unlocks the fetters that bound us to death – the fetters of sin. He does this by bestowing upon his apostles the power to break the chains of sin – that power is the forgiveness of sins. The glorious face of Jesus is God’s face which “is the face of a merciful Father who is always patient,” so said Pope Francis, “the patience he has for us…is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us. He understands us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart…God never tires of forgiving us!...The problem is that we ourselves tire, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness.” (Francis, 1st Angelus Message, 17 March 2013.)

Those who are weary of asking for forgiveness are “those who trust in themselves and in their own merits…blinded by their ego and their hearts are hardened in sin.” (Benedict XVI, I Believe in God, 139.) On the other hand, “those who recognize that they are weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and obtain from him grace and forgiveness…In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, whatever the sin committed, if it is humbly recognized and the person involved turns with trust to the priest-confessor, he or she never fails to experience the soothing joy of God’s forgiveness. (In the Sacrament of Reconciliation), what is central (is) the personal encounter with God, the Father of goodness and mercy. It is not sin which is at the heart of the sacramental celebration but rather God’s mercy, which is infinitely greater than any guilt of ours.” (Ibid., 139-140.)

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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