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.”
As promised yesterday, today I am writing about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The definition for reconciliation is “to be reconciled.” Reconcile is “to win over to friendliness; cause to be amicable”. Thank-you to definition.com. The Catholic Church believes that in order for sins to be forgiven, one must confess these sins to a priest and receive penance, thereby becoming reconciled with God. Penance is something we must do in order for our sins to be forgiven – sometimes it three Our Fathers and two Hail Marys (the numbers don’t matter, nor what prayers), sometimes if you’re a child, it might be to do something nice for a sibling, maybe it would be to perform an act of service. What your penance is depends on the priest and possibly what you confessed – if you said that you have been getting mad at people on your morning commute, your penance might be to say a prayer the next commute for the people who annoy you. This is much like putting our children in time-out or grounding them when they misbehave. The Israelite did not roam the desert for 40 years because Moses was lost. It was because they doubted God and started worshiping false gods and God punished them. Why would we be different?So now you may be wondering why we believe that we go to a priest to confess our sins, not just pray to God about it. The verse from John at the start of this post talks about when Jesus appeared to the apostles on Easter night, when they were hiding in the locked room from the Jews. Jesus chooses that day, the Day of His Resurrection, to give the disciples the authority to forgive sins. He tells them they can forgive sins, not that they can tell the people who their sins will just be forgiven. Jesus has already entrusted the Keys to the Kingdom to Peter and now He goes a step further and entrusts to the authority of the Church the forgiveness of sins. Jesus gave the authority to forgive sins to the Church leaders, not to us to just pray, “Please forgive my sins” and we decide they are forgiven. If sins are to be forgiven, they must be confessed to a priest and penance be performed before we are reconciled with God.
Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass 2001, 1998, 1970 CCD