March 25 & April 1, 2018
At this time of the year, I would usually be pushing attendance at the ceremonies of the Sacred Triduum — Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy Week. That is still a brilliant idea and one that you should consider. But this year, I want to share with you a reflection about the Sacrament of Penance that has been triggered in my mind by my reading in preparation for my own work in this coming week.
Something is terribly wrong. This is surely true of the week in which the Son of God is hung on a cross to die!
But it is true of every time and place; from the day when the apple core hit the bushes (Eden) until the day when the last tear is dried on the cheek of the last person on earth as he mourns the loss of all he has loved (date TBD), something is terribly wrong!
And everyone has a good clear idea of just what that something is. It is something someone else did; Eve or whoever killed off the last human. The question that the Apostles posed at the Last Supper has actually become a statement in our mouths — Surely it is not I, Lord!
The Gospel message is perfectly clear: Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world — into our living and dying — to save sinners. If we really think that it is not I, and then we have declared that we do not need him, do not need his life or his death or the message that proclaims them.
Q: Whom did he come to save? A: Not I! This is the first question and answer in the Catechism of the Council of the Feel-good Generation!
In the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance, I do what Jesus did in his Baptism — I take my place amongst the sinners of the world. I do what was done to him in his trials before the high and mighty of Church and State — I admit that I am worthy of condemnation for what I have done and for what I have failed to do (sins of omission are notoriously hard to identify — but they are usually indicated by phrases accompanied by fingers pointed at the not I who is a real someone who).
Most difficult of all is to do what he did and to forgive my enemies. Nearly as difficult is the realization that when I allege my fear of someone or something to excuse my failure to serve God, I have given to those fearsome things the power that belongs to God alone; I have created a false god!
As uncomfortable as these thoughts may be, I offer them at the beginning of this week in which we celebrate the fact that Jesus dies for our part in what is terribly wrong. In Penance, we accept our need for that death and the gift of it to bring us to new life.
All that by way of calling you attention to the much expanded opportunities for confession this week.
Really and truly and sinfully yours,