Last week Pope Francis asked the universal Church to join him in “24 Hours for the Lord”, a time when each diocese should throw the confessional doors wide open and encourage the faithful, and the not-so-faithful, to take full advantage of the loving mercy of God by going to confession. Our archbishop responded by opening St. Francis of Paola Church for 24 hours of confessions, beginning yesterday evening and ending today at 6:30pm. (There’s still time to go if you haven’t been to confession lately.)
Confession heals our blindness, it helps us to “see” God rightly: merciful, loving, eager to forgive. Yet, just as I can’t accept an apology from someone if I don’t first admit they’ve hurt me, so too, God can’t forgive us until we acknowledge our sinfulness. Like the man born blind in today’s Gospel, we need healing of our sight – or rather our insight – to see our sins with clarity. Regular confession helps us grow in self-knowledge, so that we can move beyond just confessing our sins, but uncovering their roots. Many of us know the oppressive weight of carrying unconfessed sins on our soul. Thanks be to God, it doesn’t just end there – we can also know the freedom and hope that accompanies absolution.
It’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about God when we’re flying high and filled with gratitude for His mercy, but the truth is He loves us no less when we have thrown that loving mercy back in His Sacred Face by our sins. The remembrance of His enduring love can give us the courage to return to confession, to make reparation for our sins, and most importantly, to receive His forgiveness. And once we have been forgiven ourselves, we are called to become, to paraphrase the Holy Father, ambassadors of mercy to others. God is not a hoarder; His generosity knows no bounds, and He wants us to be intimately involved in spreading His generous mercy to others.
Click here to read his homily from the penance service at St. Peter’s.