Homily – December 7, 2014

Cardinal Collins has designated Dec. 10th as the Archdiocesan Day of Reconciliation. Here at St. Gabriel’s the Sacrament of Reconciliation were be available from 10;30 -12;00 and from 3:30 til 6:00.

Any priest ordained for a number of years will tell you that confessions have dropped off over the years. Many of us seniors remember lining up on either side of the ‘sin bin’ to tell the priest pretty much the same sins we confessed the last time we confessed. The emphasis in those days was on ‘confessing’ and the numbers of times. It was for many people so mechanical. There was little emphasis on why we did or said things that were sinful. The whole experience was thought to be unsatisfactory.

For a number of years now the sacrament has been called the sacrament of reconciliation. The emphasis in not on the telling of sins and the number, the emphasis in on our desire to be reconciled to God, to mend the brokenness of our relationship with God caused by our failures to live our lives in Christ-like ways.

We are good people but we are also mistaking making people. We keep letting our wants get in the way of what Christ calls us to be and do. We let our wants for instant gratification take over our lives and so we use people to satisfy our needs for pleasure or power or things. St. Paul said it so well in these words,’ the good that I would that I do not and the evil that I would not do, that I do.’ We can’t solve this struggle on our own. We need to open to open our lives to the grace and power of Christ. We need the example of his love, his mercy, his care and concern for others, his example of forgiving, his openness to other people and his sense of justice to be our motivation to love as we’ve been loved, to respect other people as we’ve been respected, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.

It is a day by day struggle to live up to the example Christ has given us. Some days we win and some days we lose. But always we keep trying. Always we keep depending on Christ to help us be the kind of Christian person Christ calls us to be.

There can be times when we just get so discouraged with dealing with our struggles to be good persons. We need to hear the encouraging words of our second reading, ‘The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting you to perish, but all to come to repentance.’ Through this gracious gift of Christ, this sacrament of reconciliation we come by his grace to restore and strengthen our relationship with him whether it has been shattered or weaken by our selfishness.

Our first reading and our gospel tell of mountains brought low, valleys filled in, croaked ways straighten to allow the grace and life of God to enter and transform our lives so that Christ’s peace, patience and goodness can find a home in our lives. The sacrament of reconciliation is an opportunity to make this happen in our lives. If you have been away a long time and have forgotten what to say or do, don’t fret your confessor will fill in the blanks. This sacrament of reconciliation is Christ’s gift of pardon and peace to you. After his resurrection Jesus appeared to the apostles. St. John tells us, ‘he breathed on then and said, receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain, they are retained. Accept this gift, unwrap it and enjoy it.