Since the Sacrament of Reconciliation is closely connected with the Eucharist, the following weekends will be devoted to forgiveness. No better occasion to begin than Christ the King. With one word a king has the power to set free or condemn.
We rejoice in freedom from sin that Christ has won for us by His death and resurrection. We no longer have to pay for our offenses because they have been forgiven. Sin made an appearance way back in the Garden of Eden. However, early Christians were more in touch with the difference between serious sin and venal sin. Yet, the measures that we use have changed over the years as we mature in the Gospel values. For example, slaves were treated like animals, not like people—just because they were another color. The Church owned slaves. St. Paul taught that in Christ there are no slaves or free people—that we are all the same. When the Conquistadores came to the Americas the natives were given two choices: they could choose Christianity or be killed. Obviously many people were killed. Standards have changed, thank God. We still discriminate, still make war and continue to murder. Those are all serious sins. Saying bad words, having bad thoughts (whatever those are), making fun of Msgr. Gus—those are not the kind of sins that will condemn us to hell. Actually Jesus identified only one unforgiveable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The sin against the Holy Spirit is when we deny the mercy of God—when we tell God that we don’t need Him—that we don’t need anyone. The Holy Spirit is operative in everything—in people, animals, nature—nothing would exist without the Holy Spirit. We have to be very stupid to turn our back on God who is so willing to forgive us. Yet, pride is always just around the corner, especially with technology that gives us the illusion that we are independent, self-sufficient. Only with humility can we approach the throne of grace.
Starts by forgiving ourselves. If we cannot forgive ourselves, we will never accept the forgiveness of God. Means we have to like ourselves, accept who we are, and learn to cope with our weaknesses. We can get in line and return gifts after Christmas, but there are no returns on our personality. No fair to tell God, “You made me too short, too tall, not smart enough, wish I was a better athlete. Take a good look in a full-length mirror—preferably naked. After we have a good laugh or a good cry—we need to embrace what you see—because what we see is what we get.
We can make cosmetic changes and thank God for modern science, but we cannot change our soul. The first step in reconciliation is acceptance of both the good and what needs improvement. There are countless of unhappy people running around—looking for happiness in all the wrong places. If we are not happy with ourselves, we will never be happy with any one else. Perhaps that’s one reason that folks will come to confession and say that they have already confessed a sin but continue to feel guilty about it. That they want to confess the sin again. Won’t do any good. Confess every day, won’t do any good. We first need to forgive our self in order to hear the saving words of Christ. Jesus came to proclaim the Truth—that we are loved without conditions. Evil places doubts in our mind—that God cannot possibly love us because of what we have done. Frankly, doubts are easier to believe when we have a low self-image. Our challenge is to live in truth, in spite of our past.
The King has called us by name to be His people. Throughout the centuries many have proclaimed Jesus as King but they haven’t believed in their heart. The way we show that we believe is to allow ourselves to be forgiven. Listen to His voice. His grace is all that we need.