Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
I John 1: 1-10
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”Has confession lost its teeth in purging our sins and purifying us?
St. Augustine realised that sacrament is only meaningful when it is ‘an outward sign of inward grace.’ It is worth pondering whether our sacraments have this intimate relationship. The Council of Trent defined seven sacraments; confession or penance is a sacrament in itself and also has a central place in other sacraments. Cardinal Manning was once asked what he thought of the sin of Judas consisted of; he said, ‘Judas allowed himself to become too familiar with all-holy Lord and he was not made holy by the holiness of Jesus.’ I feel this is our problem today as well, we are too familiar with holy things, sacraments, and take everything for granted and not realise the importance of confession in our daily living.
Confession is at the heart of Christian living: When we read the whole of the first letter of John we realise that it was written to repudiate the false teaching of his opponents who claimed a special relationship with God (1: 6, 2: 4) and to be without sin (1:8,10). The entire emphasis in this letter is about orthopraxis (right behaviour), of renouncing sin, rejecting worldliness, being obedient to love command, and keeping faith through the grace of God. In the first chapter John gives simple and clear instructions for correct Christian living. He asks us to live in the light because God is light; the first condition for living in the light is to renounce sin (1.8 -2.2).
Confession for clearing away the muck and mud in our lives: Once a catholic theologian told me, ‘Protestants do not believe in confession.’ This is because of their dependence on auricular confession. In ancient times, the sinner would have to confess their sins in public before showing remorse, repentance and restitution through fasting, praying and alms-giving. The tradition moved to private confession to priests, leading to absolution. In our tradition, during Eucharist, we say together a general confession, repeating after the priest, which is to a certain extent formulaic. Confession is an admission of wrong-doing against God, to us and others, which is absolutely necessary before one is able to ask for forgiveness. Confession is specific to each of us and must not be covered up in generalities. We must not only confess the sins that separate us from God but also the consequences of our sins on us and how it affects others around us.
Prayer: Dear Lord and Father of mankind, lead us from ignorance to truth; from darkness to light and from the wages of sin, death, to eternity under thy amazing grace. Amen!
Dr. Zac Varghese, U.K