In the book of Proverbs Solomon urges us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and not rely in our insight (3:5). The serenity of this simple counsel is meant to guide man to acknowledge God before ourselves as only God can make our paths straight and clear (3:6). A climax to this short examination of conscience is the call to be not wise in our own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (3:7-8).
Solomon’s wisdom and counsel perfectly illustrates the perpetual opportunity God provides to seek His guidance and direction in all things. The profit we may gain by following this simple spiritual exercise amounts to our ability to see Christ more clearly within the rigors of our daily life.
The Fear of Change
The human condition is easily conditioned for better or worse due to our inclination to seek something other than Christ. We can look no further than Israel’s actions after the parting of the Red Sea, their impatience with Moses speaking with God and the result of the construction of the Golden calf (Ex 32). These examples state the obvious of our ancestor’s human condition; they could not let go of the past and their carnal urges were so strong within them that it drove them to live a life apart from God. One of the unique repercussions of Israel’s behavior was the extent of God’s mercy toward His Children and the disciples He chose to exhibit His mercy on earth.
Jesus the Divine Physician
A characteristic of Christ we often gloss over is that of a Divine Physician. He was not only a healer of the body, but His primary mission as the Incarnate Word was to bring a healing of the soul redirecting man to initiate an intimate relationship with Him as witnessed in his discourse on true greatness (Mk 9:33-37) or forgiving the sinful woman (Lk 7:36-50). These examples reveal Christ’s genuine desire to unite His children to Him and heal any impediment both physical and spiritual that would hinder a genuine friendship with the Good Doctor.
Addressing the fear of Confession
Other than fearing death itself, confession is probably the sacrament seen with the most disdain because the mere mention of the word or its equivalent e.g. penance, conversion, forgiveness. Reconciliation calls the person to break away from their current state of being, to cease those habitual acts that are distancing oneself from Christ. Jesus calls us to conversion, penance calls us to acknowledge our need to repent, forgiveness allows us to seek absolution and reconciliation imparts on us God’s love (CCC 1424). By nature of our baptism we are called continually to seek a conversion of heart as a way to embrace the love of Christ and His Church and dispel those fears that draw us away from Him. Keep in mind St. Peter’s denial thrice over was met with an infinite gaze of mercy from Christ. He absolved him right on the spot without hesitation.
I Absolve You
The journey toward absolution requires us to have a contrite heart (contrition) and confess our sins with our own lips. It is a free and genuine desire to seek healing for transgressions against God, His children and the Church universal. Confession to a Priest is part of the essential rite of the Church where one can validly seek reconciliation from your sins (Jn 20:20-23, Mt 5:28, 2 Cor 5:18).
St. Augustine reminds us that whoever confesses his sins is already working with God. . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light. (CCC 1458)
The effects of absolution within the rite of penance is reconciliation with God and the Church. It places us in the position to reject the path of death and embrace the path of life. The three most beautiful words that can bring immediate healing and release the bondage of anyone struggling with the weight of sin and its horrific effects is the words of absolution “I absolve you.” Absolution as conferred by the Christ’s minister in person Christi reflects Christ’s mercy as exhibited to St. Peter and directs us to sin no more knowing that we still possess the inclination to sin (concupiscence) due to the fall.
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I Absolve You from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.