As I write, it is raining. I got reminded of ‘Downpour’. This was a four-day Christian living camp held last week, organised in our Diocese for families and others to attend.
As I celebrated the final Mass of the camp, I could feel the energy that had been generated in those four days. The presence of the Holy Spirit was obvious to me.
One of the highlights of the camp was the reconciliation service on the Friday night.
There was a penitential service where those present were reminded of God’s great love. They were reminded that we are able to make fresh starts. We are able, with the grace of God, to break unhealthy patterns of behaviour, to be more loving, to love more freely.
There was sharing of prayer and song.
Afterwards six priests, including myself, were available for individual confession, also known as reconciliation.
As I sat there for about an hour and a half I felt really moved by the experience.
I felt that what I was ministering during that time was among the most important ministry for me as an ordained minister.
It is a sacrament of celebration of God’s great love for us. It is about healing!
So many times, as is recorded in the Gospels, when people were brought to Jesus for healing, the first thing He did was to say “your sins are forgiven”. He went for the ‘bulls’ eye’ for what was that person’s greatest need.
So many times we are told in the Gospel that Jesus confronted the power of evil.
Obviously, I cannot go into what any individual said during confession. However, I can say that I really felt God’s loving presence. I could feel the peace and the joy of the Holy Spirit.
The words of absolution during confession include the words “……. And I absolve you from you sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
To absolve is to release. Through His church Jesus releases the person from the oppression of sin.
Jesus is the true liberator helping us to help liberate each other from oppression into true freedom.
Sure God can, and does forgive anytime, anyplace; however in the sacrament we hear the reassuring words “I absolve you …..”.