I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get very frustrated by my own inability to avoid sin. Especially during Lent, when we’re called to penance and prayer, a time of personal reflection, I can’t help but wonder why it’s so #%^#@ hard to confront our demons and, with God’s help, boot them out of our lives. But it’s harder than it looks.
In today’s Gospel we read of the prodigal son. There’s no need to repeat the story here. I’m sure you know it. If not, click the link and read it for yourself. It’s probably one of the most analyzed pieces of scripture in all the Bible. But, being a simple guy, I prefer to look at the story in its simplest terms. The young man turned away from his father, spent his money on wine, women, and song, then when he was at rock bottom, he came back to his father hoping for some food and a place to sleep.
Instead, his father forgave him and welcomed him with open arms. In other words, the young man was you and me. Our father, our Heavenly Father, will always forgive us. He’ll always take us back, if……… See, there’s a condition on God’s forgiveness. We have to ask for it.
How do we ask? For Catholics it’s simple. We swallow our pride and step into the confessional. Jesus gave his Apostles the power to forgive sins. By extension, He gave the same power to the successors of the Apostles, our bishops. The bishops have the power to appoint priests to act on their behalf.
By the simple act of saying, “Forgive me father, for I have sinned” and then spelling out what we’ve done, we can obtain forgiveness, not from the priest, but from God himself, acting through the priest.
Confession, or the Sacrament of Reconciliation as it’s more properly called, isn’t as popular as it used to be. Trust me, you most likely won’t have to wait in line, even during Lent. But, even if you do, it’s well worth it. You may not enjoy actually going to Confession, but I challenge anyone to tell me that they don’t feel better when they’re done.