Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's in the Bible

How perfect! Four days before the start of Lent we get this reading from James. For all those folks who think they don't need to go to confession.

Ok. You're right; it doesn't say anything about a priest. It says

confess your sins to one another

And the first Christians took this quite literally. It was the expectation that those who had committed grave sin would stand up in front of the community and confess their sin. Then presbyter/ bishop would absolve them based on John 20:23.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.

As the Church grew this public confession became impracticable and so after only a few centuries the Church developed our current individual confession.

We can forget that for a millennium and a half all Christians believed in and practiced some form of the Sacrament of Penance. Those who would deny the biblical and historical foundations of the sacrament are simply choosing to ignore what they do not like. It reminds me of how I was told as a child that the wine Jesus made at Cana didn't have alcohol.

To those who would say, "God alone can forgive sin." It is good to remember that those words are only spoken by the scribes and Pharisees.

Almost no one likes to confess their sins. The idea that I can sit alone in my room and just whisper it to God is a wonderful idea, but it isn't biblical.

Are we saying that all the non-Catholic, non-Orthodox Christians are going to hell? Of course not. If I had died when I was a Baptist boy, God would have forgiven me, because I was ignorant. I didn't know how the sacrament worked. In morals ignorance is an excuse. But now I know, and I have no excuse.

In four days we begin the season of Lent. Churches around the world will be increasing the number of hours available for confession. Perhaps it has been a very long time since you have been to confession. None of that really matters. Like the prodigal son we are all welcome to come home.