Monday, June 15, 2015

Thanks Be To God for Confession

What God wants is a confession!  He never gets it.  If only Adam and Eve had asked for forgiveness, how different history might be.

The saga continues.  Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, kills his brother, Abel.  Again, God Who knows everything, asks, “What have you done?” (Gen. 4:9)  And Abel doesn’t confess. He has the hutzpah to respond, “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?”  (Gen. 4:10)  All the way to the end of the encounter, Cain is UNrepentant!  Again, God is blamed.  Cain tells God that “My punishment is greater than I can bear!”  (Gen. 4:13)  Cain isn’t saying “Woe is me;” he’s telling God that He’s not being fair.  Then he goes on to castigate God for taking away his way of making a living (Gen. 4:14) and forcing him to be a wanderer on the earth.  Like his parents, Cain is defensive, resentful and full of self-pity…everything but confessing.  He won’t say he’s sorry.  He refuses to acknowledge his sin and confess which is exactly what God is asking.

Throughout the Old Testament, God never wearies of inviting the people to confess. When God makes a covenant with Moses, there are rules and regulations.  See the Book of Leviticus, (5:5-6) and Numbers (5:5-7).  The Hebrews had to confess to their priests, and then they sacrificed as penance.  It was a ritual—read Leviticus and Numbers.   (1 Kgs. 21:27) (Neh 9: 1-2)  “The Israelites … stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”

So confession is a fact.  However although the Israelites confessed, God did not give the Levite priests the power to forgive, until Jesus, the Son of God, in John 20: 21-23.  All pardon for sins comes from God.  But Jesus left our priests, who stand in Christ’s place when in Confession,  the means to absolve. 

Jesus, Himself, forgives as in the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11) and the woman who anointed his feet (Luke 7:48). Jesus exercised this power in His human capacity as the Messiah or Son of man, telling us, "the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Matt. 9:6), which is why the Gospel writer himself explains that God "had given such authority to men" (Matt. 9:8). 

Since He would not always be with the Church visibly, Christ gave this power to other men so the Church, which is the continuation of his presence throughout time (Matt. 28:20), would be able to offer forgiveness to future generations. He gave his power to the apostles, and it was a power that could be passed on to their successors and agents, since the apostles wouldn’t always be on earth either, but people would still be sinning. 
God had sent Jesus to forgive sins, but after his resurrection Jesus told the apostles, "‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’" (John 20:21–23). (This is one of only two times we are told that God breathed on man, the other being in Genesis 2:7, when he made man a living soul. It emphasizes how important the establishment of the sacrament of penance was.) 
Please think of confession as going to a doctor to get well.  Confession is not a courtroom.  You are not judged.  There is no jury, no judge, only you and God.   The confessional is a doctor’s office.  You are going to get spiritually well.  The doctor will give you medicine.  And you need to renew your prescription to stay spiritually healthy.  Confession is long term therapy.  It is the medicine of mercy.  Thanks be to God.  
God loves us so much that He gave us this means to stay close to Him.  Unlike Adam and Eve when God asks us, (Gen 3:9) “Where are you?”  We can whisper , “With You, Lord, with You.”

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