A NEW OUTLOOK ON CONFESSION
Congratulations to our Second Grade Girls and Boys in our Parish School of Religion as they receive the Sacrament of Joy for the first time on this Tuesday evening! You may ask, "what is the pastor talking about?" I want to assure you that it is not the Sacrament of Confession, scarcely frequented these days, that is changing. Pope Francis proposes a completely different outlook on Confession, different from the experience of so many Catholics and different from a certain historical legacy.
First of all, Pope Francis indicates that within the Sacrament lies “the remedy” for the moments in life when we are down. Pope Francis asks all of us, “What do you think about when you go to confession? I am almost certain of the answer: sins. But are sins really the focus of confession? Does God want you to approach God by thinking about you, your sins, OR ABOUT GOD?”
Pope Francis proposes something that can provoke a Copernican revolution in the life of each one of us: “I am no longer at the center of the Sacrament of Penance, humiliated with my list of sins—perhaps always the same ones—to be told with difficulty to the priest. AT THE CENTER is the meeting with God who welcomes, embraces, forgives, and raises us up. Go to confession as a child of God who comes to receive God the Father’s unconditional love! Pope Francis emphasizes, “Hear this well: God always forgives! Do you understand? God always forgives!” We are not going to a judge to settle accounts, but to Jesus who loves me and heals me!”
This new outlook on the Sacrament of Confession proposed by Pope Francis asks us not to remain prisoners of shame for our sins, shame which is a good thing, but to overcome it, because “God is never ashamed of you. God loves you right there, where you are ashamed of yourself. God loves you always!”
To those who still cannot forgive themselves, believing that not even God can do it “because I will always fall into the same sins," Pope Francis says, “When does God take offense? When you go to ask God for forgiveness? No! Never! God suffers when you think God can’t forgive us, because it is like telling God, ‘You are weak in love!’ Instead, God rejoices in forgiving us, every time. When God raises us up, God believes in us as God did the first time. God does not get discouraged. We are the ones who get discouraged, God does not. God does not see sinners to label, but children to Love.
CONSIDER THIS: the Sacrament of Confession—from shame to celebration, from humiliation to joy. This does not come from Pope Francis, but from the GOSPEL!