Whose voice is the most important when we confess our sins?
When we go to confession, many voices speak to us, but which one is the most important? We know we hear our own voice, often timid and nervous, befitting a repentant follower of Jesus. Then we begin, “Bless me Father for I have sinned…” continuing with a review of our sins and seeking the Lord’s forgiveness.
When we tell our sins, we feel vulnerable and embarrassed for having behaved in a selfish manner. Afterwards, we listen as the priest responds with consoling and compassionate words of healing.
He doesn’t scold us as we may think we deserve, but rather speaks words of encouragement and reassurance. Hopefully, his voice reminds us of Christ’s continual love and caring presence which follows us in every moment of our lives. His words may sound like ones said routinely, but that’s because their meaning never varies. The priest’s Christ-centered words truthfully mean what they say.
Feeling relieved that revealing the inner secrets of our hidden selves is over, we await the words absolving us. Listening, we are a bit dumbfounded that our tension was more imagined than real. We receive our penance and leave.
Then in the pew, as we say our penance and reflect, is when we hear the most important voice of our confession. It is our voice echoing the priest’s words, speaking to our heart. It is our voice freeing us from the chains of our sins too: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”
Sometimes it’s easier to receive God’s mercy than it is our own. God does it graciously and gratefully, but we can hold onto guilt tormenting ourselves. Why? Because we know our selves too well. The sacrament of penance reminds us that God knows us “too well” too, and He still pardons us. That’s why when we forgive ourselves, it frees us to love ourselves just as Jesus does.
When we confess our sins, we hear Jesus say again: “Does no one condemn you? Then, neither do I.” There is no more beautiful response than our voice uttering: “I forgive myself. I now go in peace” And Jesus feels the same way.
Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. Pope St. John Paul II