IMPORTANCE OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
Brothers and Sisters,
With the Holy Season of Advent just around the corner, I want to offer one more word about the Sacrament of Confession and its importance. You may remember that in the month of October, I brought up Confession in several homilies and reminded everyone that it is available during the entire year and not just in Advent and Lent.
In the Book of Sirach, there is a very simple statement about sins that makes a really huge point: be not ashamed to confess your sins (Sirach 4:26). There are two sides to this particular coin: people who may think that they have no sin to confess, and others that are too ashamed of their sins to admit them in the Sacrament of Confession.
Regarding the first possibility – that someone does not think that he or she has sinned, I offer you these words from Saint Paul: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In a very matter-of-fact way, Saint Paul simple tells us that we would be only fooling ourselves if we were to claim that we have no need for the Sacrament of Confession.
A common reason for avoiding Confession is that many do not want to say aloud or confront sins or even particular memories of sin. It certainly is true that many people have painful memories that are difficult to confront. It is also true that many people are not comfortable simply confronting the fact that that have particular sins, perhaps sins that may even be embarrassing.
In all cases, brothers and sisters, that brief statement from the Book of Sirach has so much to say: be not ashamed to confess your sins. Through the seven sacraments, we receive grace is the best of ways. In Confession not only do we hold ourselves to account, we receive new strength from Christ Himself to both heal the sins of our past and avoid those sins in the future.
Finally, I would like to offer two Scripture passages that speak to the teaching of the Church regarding the Sacrament of Confession. Firstly, when Christ asks Peter “who do you say that I am,” Peter responds by recognizing the Christ is indeed the Son of God – it is at that point that Christ gives Saint Peter and the other apostles the authority to forgive sins: “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven” (Matthew 16:15-19). The second quote comes from after the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. When He appears to the apostles (minus both Judas and Saint Thomas), Saint John writes “Jesus said to them again ‘peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me so I send you.’ 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’” (John 20:21-23). The surrounded parishes also have confession times available.
God be near,