|Our Holy Father goes to confession.|
I believe that the year of Mercy has been such a blessing for the Church.
Maybe there aren’t the huge crowds in Rome usually associated with a jubilee year, maybe the average person doesn’t think much about the year of Mercy as they go through their daily lives, but I assure you the Church and our little Church are receiving so much grace from the Year of Mercy.
Here at St. Paul’s Our Mercy Mondays have not drawn huge crowds most nights there are around 20 people in church, some people come and go.
At the end of the night for benediction there are usually about 10 people left.
However, almost every night all four of us are busy talking with and listening to people and some of the people we talk to have been away a long time.
They are people who for whatever reason have walked down bad road after bad road and made bad choice after bad choice.
They people who even with all their mistakes somehow found their way back.
And when they sit before us or kneel behind the screen and tell us their story our heart breaks for them.
Many of them are discouraged, tired, ashamed and embarrassed and yet they still come. Their desire to be loved and forgiven trumps all those other emotions.
And I assure you that when we listen to them there is not a priest who doesn’t think, but for the grace of God there go I. We all know that we could easily be sitting in their chair carrying the same sin and shame.
It’s very humbling and moving when a person trusts you with their heart and their weaknesses just because your are a priest.
Usually after a brief conversation they hear the words they came to hear.
“I absolve you of all your sins” and when they stand up again to leave they are completely reconciled with God.
Sometimes they look at you a little confused.
That’s all it takes?
Some even ask you don’t I have to do more?
Shouldn’t my penance be greater?
Didn’t you hear what I’ve done over and over again?
Yes, God’s mercy is always given that freely to anyone who asks for it.
There are those who question the whole sacrament of reconciliation or confession.
They say where does the priest a sinful man himself get the authority to forgive sins?
The answer can be found in today’s Gospel.
John 20:21 when Jesus tells his disciples.
“Receive the holy spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven them whose sins you retain are retained.”
You see over and over again as our Lord walked the face of the earth he forgave sins.
Catholics believe when Jesus knew that he was going to ascend back to the Father he wanted to make sure that the Church continued to be an instrument of God’s mercy and healing.
He knew that men and women of every age would need healing and forgiveness.
So he gave his early disciples and those who would follow the power to forgive sins.
This year It is my sincere hope and the hope of the Church that all of us will be more merciful with those who sin and those who hurt us.
It is the hope of the Church that all of us will rediscover the beauty of the sacrament of confession.
The Church was given this power to forgive sins because we all need it.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thank You Lord for the gift and challenge of your Mercy - Amen
No matter how long it’s been Monday Nights from 7 to 8 see you there and bring a friend. Amen