Dealing with our “inside” pain through Reconciliation … frees us to embrace the Resurrection and new life, now!
Happy Easter! The joy of Easter can be difficult for some Christians; leaving them with mixed feelings: happy but… Why? We all seem happy on the outside.
Because on the inside we have to face our own demons and regrets and fear and shame. Perhaps we ask: will God really let me into Heaven? After what I’ve done? With the feelings and temptations that I have?
The Good News (including the Resurrection), teaches us, not about God’s anger for our sins, but about God’s desire to remove our sadness and fear; even sacrificing and suffering for us.
At first glance, the first and second readings today seem to emphasise our “badness”. However, I think they are spoken in a gentle and non-judgemental way: they are an invitation.
First Reading: Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out. Second Reading: I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning; but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father.
What we must understand, first of all, is that we are people heavily influenced by our experiences, and the way we were treated, as children and teenagers.
We all carry wounds into adulthood; along with the defences we developed to protect ourselves. It could be anger, isolation, avoidance of certain people, ignore other people’s suffering, lust after money or materials or sex: all as substitutes for the love that we truly desire.
So often we blame ourselves, when we were victims of the sins of others.
However, we do have to take responsibility for our re-actions to how we feel. But we can never destroy God’s love for us.
The Resurrection is not a means to sort out who is getting into Heaven and who is not. It’s a powerful call to all people to say: God wants you, God is forgiving you. That’s why the Gospel is so important for us: “in his name repentance for the forgiveness of sins is to be preached to all the nations.”
God’s desire to help people know how much God wants ALL OF US, not just some of us. And that is part of our mission – we are the ones today who must share this message.
We are to encourage people who “hate” themselves because of past mistakes. We are to teach people that the past does not equal the future: there is hope for better. The gift of reconciliation is for all of us: it’s about healing the past, not just forgiveness.
Although many people dislike the need to confess to someone else, the psychological and emotional benefits are necessary to rise above the past: something positive happens. To keep our pain/ sins secret prolongs the torture of those sins in our lives. Whether the sins belong to us or the person who abused us, we need to expel them, so that healing may begin.
We thank God, our Catholic Church holds the secrecy of Reconciliation very strictly. It gives us courage to expel the sins of the past, and believe in our God-given goodness. The Resurrection invites us to rise above past injustices, and a new life is possible.
I pray each of us has the courage to expel the past and embrace the future: you are good. I particularly encourage our youth in Kenya to trust in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Sadly: neglect, deprivation or emotional, physical and sexual abuse has touched many of you.
Let us embrace the mercy of God, and the promise of the Resurrection.
May God give you courage to do what we need to do and raise your spirits.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI