Friday, March 11, 2016

Reflections on Reconciliation

I had the privilege of offering a reflection during our Reconciliation Service yesterday and thought I would share it with you all. For a little context, this service was prepared as part of a Lay Presiding course in which we learn how to prepare, plan and facilitate different types of liturgies ranging from Evening Prayer, Taize Prayer, and Liturgy of the Word. The readings we chose to use for this particular service were 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 and Luke 7:36-50.

When I told my mom that I would be preaching at a reconciliation service she laughed and told me a story of how when she and her cousin Michelle were younger, they loved going to confession. In fact, they loved it so much that they would make up sins just so that they could go again!

Apparently I did not inherit that confession-loving gene, because I am often the complete opposite of my mother in this story. I tend to avoid going to confession like it’s the plague. The idea of reviewing the number of times I have sinned and reciting them to someone is not exactly the most appealing thing to me and causes way more anxiety than it probably should – especially when I usually know all too well those places in my life where I have failed.

I know when I could have been a better friend, a better daughter, a better roommate, colleague, Christian, you name it. And that awareness, that lovely Catholic guilt, often becomes the focal point of my confession when I do go.

But what if the focus was shifted?

What if rather than placing all of the concentration on listing failures, a greater attention was paid to the abounding love and forgiveness shown by God in this beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation? Even just using the word “reconciliation” rather than “confession” completely shifts the tone. In the sacrament we are not just reciting our faults and waiting for our penance. We are doing more than just confessing, we are reconciling. We are looking to restore right relationship with the Divine, to continue striving to know God better and to love the world as God loves.

Today in the Gospel we hear Jesus say “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love.” Because this woman - unnamed and labeled only by the fact that she, like all of us, is a sinner - because she has shown
 great love, she is forgiven. It did not matter that she had “sins which were many” or even what those sins were. 


She loved and she actively sought to serve God – to get as close to the Beloved as she possibly could. And it is because of that outpouring of courageous love that Jesus said to her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

“In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” 
 This is the ministry of reconciliation. It is not intended to be a counting of trespasses, a recitation of sins and a sentencing of penance. Reconciliation is an outpouring of grace in which we recognize the infinite love of God and allow that love to take hold of our hearts as we go out into the world as “ambassadors for Christ”.

So this evening, as you prepare to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation, rather than focusing primarily on failures, perhaps pray for openness and receptivity to the endless love of God and a deeper understanding of how we are called not only to recognize that brilliant love, but to share it with our world.

How are you called to bring the infinite love and goodness of God with the world?


**Linking up with BlessedisShe and #BISLent


  1. This is a beautiful reflection Sarah!

    The metaphor that came to mind was that of God the Father breaking through a wall. That with each sin we are laying a brick in the midst of our relationship with God. It is in simply acknowledging the wall that God tears through it like a case of dynamite. Praise be to God, for he is mercy and love.

    1. That's a beautiful metaphor, Amy! Thank you for sharing! (And for reading!)
      Peace, Sarah