How does Confession heal my soul?
Father Mac answered: “For the most part it, restores our dignity gained at Baptism.” To that, Lenora, a high school senior, inquired: “What you’re saying Father, is there’s a connection between Baptism and Penance?” “Absolutely,” added Father, “and a big one too!” “Please explain that,” chimed in Ted, another graduating senior.
What is Fr. Mac saying? Let’s look at his statement more closely. Those to be baptized are brought to church carrying Adam and Eve’s inherited original sin. The waters of Baptism wash clean that sin making the baptized adopted sons and daughters of God. Thus, the baptized gain the amazing dignity of membership in God’s family. This means that Jesus Christ becomes the adopted brother of all the baptized.
Let’s be clear: the baptized did nothing to gain that dignity. Their adopted brother, Jesus, through His death and resurrection, freely gives it to them. When they complete this earthly life, the baptized move into the divine household of God their Father.
But when after baptism, sin enters our lives, things change. When we sin, we say to God: “You are not enough for me. I need more than what you can offer.” And when we choose whatever that is over our relationship with God, darkness covers the luster of our dignity and we are like dead persons.
However, when we come to our senses and realize our mistakes, we become contrite and filled with remorse. We bow our heads telling God we’re sorry and beg for His Mercy. In the confessional, we confess our sins and our sorrow. The priest’s absolution dissolves the darkness of sin, and most importantly, restores our baptismal dignity. We are whole again! Then we look as we did on the day of our baptism—shiny, new, and part of God’s family again.
Jesus isn’t interested in making us feel guilty or filled with pity. Jesus only wants His restored brother and sister to use their gifts and persons to build His Father’s kingdom.
Our lesson is if God can forgive and move on, we can do the same. If God doesn’t measure our lives by our last mistake or even our last rejection, we can also do the same. God looks at His creation and always sees what’s possible, not what’s impossible. And this same vision is what God asks us to see.
Mercy is never about belittling or humiliating others. It is simply and plainly the restorative power of God’s grace. Pope St. John Paul says: “Mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of his mission.”
Indeed, when we confess, we heal, and it gives us all a spotless, new start. Confession restores also our final destiny and makes our lives end “happily ever after.” Fr. Mac is correct – what begins at Baptism ends in heaven!
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Blessings, Fr. DeLillio
(Art Work: I baptize you, Jen Norton Artist)