Saturday, July 12, 2014

Forgiveness and. Mission

We close the week with the prophet Isaiah. In his vision he hears the angels cry out words which we imitate each time we celebrate the Eucharist "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and Earth are full of your glory." Then there is the image of penance that seems strange to our modern sensibilities. After Isaiah confesses that he is a man of unclean lips,

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it and said, “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged."

Cleansed of his sins he is now ready to carry out his mission, and make his famous petition,

Here I am, send me!

On Saturday afternoons around the country priests sit in confessionals, ready to exercise the ministry handed on to the Church when Jesus said to the apostle after his ressurection,

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

It is done with much less drama, but with no less effect. As God used the angel to forgive Isaiah after his confession, so today God uses his priests as the instruments and messengers of forgiveness.

As importantly, once we receive the gift of God's forgiveness we should not simply walk away forgiven, but like Isaiah we too should offer our lives in service of God. In gratitude for the gift of God's forgiveness we too should ask with all our heart,

Send me!

And God will indeed show you your particular mission in the world.