The Catholic Defender: Absolution in the Confessional, The Mercy Seat Of God
Have you ever been asked why Catholics must go to Confession? I wish I had a nickel for every time I've been challenged with that?
In the bible we see where Jesus offered Absolution to the Woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) when everyone else dropped their rocks and left. Also, Jesus gave Absolution to St. Dismiss on the Cross (Luke 23:32-43) which are great examples of God's mercy.
The entire New Testament speaks of the Lord's coming to set the captives free. The message of forgiveness is mentioned 33 times in the New Testament.
Jesus makes this extraordinary charge to the Apostles, " On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-24
Consider the words Jesus uses clearly giving His Apostles this authority: "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you"? Why did the Father send Jesus to the world? To bring about reconciliation to all mankind, to those who will accept the Lord's grace. Why is it that people have a problem with this passage of scripture?
I place the problem among three different groups of people:
1. Some people are afraid what the priest might think about them?
I think this group is common because people feel bringing their sins to bear is difficult. Some things are hard to admit. I think for these people, the Confessional is an act of humility, we must be humble before the Lord. I can certainly identify with this but I must admit something here. When you offer a good Confession, a good examination of conscience, Confession is really liberating. To acknowledge our sins and to come to grip with them gives us the fighting chance to overcome them.
2. Some people do not see the need for it:
These people refuse to confess their sin many times because they do not recognize their living in sin. Some might think that they are good people who do not need to confess their sins. "I'm a good person, I'm no worse that the next person"?
Sometimes people bury their sins and forgets about it until it comes out subconsciously later on. People are not really honest with themselves because if they were, they would recognize how much they need Jesus in their lives. Confession is a healing Sacrament.
3. Some people deny and reject the need to see a priest:
Denominations have developed by the thousands looking for ways to restore their relationship with God. They will assert that you do not need a "middle man" to go through. Some will see the priesthood of Christ as something represented by every person, not just a chosen few who are duly ordained. They will say the priesthood of Levi was done when Christ came and died on the cross. These have been misinformed because they can't see the Church Christ established where He gives them His mission. You can't take out the "middle man" without ultimately being disobedient to Jesus Himself.
Consider the signs worked among the Apostles, people were healed just trying to reach the shadow of St. Peter as he walked near by the sick (Acts 5:15). Aprons, towels, hand cloths, handkerchiefs were touched to the body of St. Paul and taken to the sick and oppressed and many were cured (Acts 19:11-12). These signs and wonders were worked among the Apostles, so when they offered Absolution, great works were done healing the people. Cleansing the people of their sins.
St. Paul writes, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation . . .” 2 Corinthians 5: 18
The Ministry of reconciliation is where absolution takes place when Jesus takes those sins confessed and throws them into the see of forgetfulness and remembers them no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Another great sign of God giving us the "middle man comes from James 5:113-17, "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the presbyters of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the LORD. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the LORD will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. "
Oil and absolution goes a long way when Jesus is the center of it. It is through His power that all this takes place. The Sacraments have transported through time and space from the Church Christ founded, the Catholic Church.
This upcoming Lent is a perfect opportunity to experience the power of God's mercy and forgiveness by receiving Absolution where the right hand of the priest is raised and the Sign of the Cross is imputed over you and you walk out cleansed by the King of Kings.
If it's been a while since you been to Confession, I want to encourage you to seek the Lord while He may still be found. It's never too late while you can still choose to follow the Lord.