Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More thoughts on reconciliation and guilt

When I was preparing for my first reconciliation, I vividly remember being in the old fashion type black box, practicing for the real thing. I must have said something which I cannot remember when a hand came out of that little screen and slapped me across the face, not once, but twice...I ducked the third time! That memory has been with me all of these years. I also remember being invited to a parish to celebrate First Reconciliation with the little ones. I had pulled back the old screen. There was dead silence until I heard a littel tinkle and I knew there was no fountain in that reconciliation box. I just cannot imagine the fear that was in that little person so many years ago.

Over the years we have come to a ever deepened understanding of the sacrament of reconciliation. It is not a place we go to to receive a slap in the face or to approach with fear, it is an encounter with the loving presence of a God who loves us and accepts us beyond our wildest dreams. His mercy is greater than our sin. It is a mercy we need to experience again and again. Why? Because it is the sacrament of reconciliation not obliteration. Jesus Christ is the only spiritual leader who encourages us to love our enemy. And the enemy is within each one of us. There are some sinful practices that are removed by God's grace, while others remain. It is so encouraging to read what happened Paul when he had thorn in the flesh which because of his fallen understanding he wanted it removed and removed immediately. It did not happen. When he complained to God about the thorn remaining in his life, he heard the words, "My grace is sufficient for you, it is in weakness my power is made perfect". Then we have Paul's great response to this, "It is only when I am weak, it is then that I am strong". When we go to encounter the gentleness and compassion of God in this sacament of peace, we are going to confess our need to encounter a God of mercy and confession and the part of we hate the most. {Rohr} This is wonderful a freeing understanding of the sacrament that is today so unused, not visited.

The season of Lent has always been associated with penance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The journey into our own deserts reveal to us the aspects of our lives we need reconciliation with the ministering of angels it offers to each one of us in this encounter with a revelation of God's love for us-our savior Jesus Christ. This is what conversion means-to return, to turn around and return to the always open embrace of our God.

A repentence means returning so we can become truly ourselves.
Turning around to be embraced so we can embrace who we really are.
Turning around so as we can turn our back on guilt, fear and shame.
Turning around so we can be embraced as the beloved.
Let us turn around so we can be who we already are.
Turning around so we can be free from the prison of the lie so we can be free to live in the freedom of the Truth.
God's truth speaks to us always in the present and this present of God is what we call now.

Fr. Joe