“That I may know [Jesus Christ], and the power of his resurrection….” (Phil. 3:10)
Jesus Christ exercised a ministry of healing and forgiving sins (among other things). We see in the Acts of the Apostles the continuation of Jesus’ healing ministry through some of the amazing miracles performed by Peter and Paul through the power of the risen and Glorified Christ.
Jesus also wished to continue his ministry of the forgiveness of sins specifically through the Apostles and their successors. Thus, following his glorious Resurrection, Jesus conferred on the apostles the power to forgive sins, a power Jesus himself had exercised during his earthly ministry. It is recounted in John’s Gospel that, during a resurrection appearance, Jesus met with the apostles and said to them, in particular:
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he said this, he breathed on them , and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 21-23)
Confession, thus, is a Resurrection gift from Jesus who has passed on his ministry of forgiving sins (what we call the Sacrament of Confession) to the apostles and their successors. We might also note that, following his resurrection, Jesus reconfirmed Peter as head of His church (see John 21: 15-20). From our Lord’s Resurrection blossomed great gifts for the
Paragraph 1461 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms what has been said above:
“Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed, bishops and priests, by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
I don’t know how to say this: forgiveness of sins is the greatest need every person has. Jesus, in His Infinite Wisdom, and in His genius as the leader of souls, has willed that forgiveness of sins be readily available from his priests, where the concrete actions of forgiveness, absolution, and spiritual guidance can take place in a powerful and effective manner appropriately
tailored to our human situation.
What a tremendous gift the Sacrament of Confession is! And to think that in Metro-Detroit (or in your town) there are multitudinous venues where Confession can be swiftly accomplished. And in the time it takes to buy a six-pack and a bag of chips your slate can be wiped clean. Amazing but true! And whereas the six-pack and chips will cost you some dough, get this!, no charge for confession, although it may cost a little courage and humility.
Jesus established this sacrament of Reconcilliation for our own good. I think I am going to petition Pope Francis to restrict the sacrament only to those who make a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai during Holy Week, and climb on their knees to the top of the mountain, after fasting on bread and water for forty days. Then people will take the sacrament seriously and realize what a tremendous gift they have in receiving it. Oh Jesus, you have made salvation too easy, and so people neglect the very gifts you wish to give them (and which requires, perhaps, a one or two mile drive to the church just down the road). Don’t be a coulda, woulda and shoulda, but didn’t go to Confession Catholic. Confession is simply Fort Knox for free. And Jesus shed his Precious Blood so that you could access this tremendous sacrament.
Reference: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church and Father Faber who, using hyperbole, talks about restricting access to Confession so that more people will begin to appreciate the value of this great sacrament. Use Confession to your eternal advantage! In one of his talks Scott Hahn relates the sacraments as simply “Fort Knox for free.”
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