Spirit of Forgiveness
After Jesus’ greeting of peace to his disciples, He sends them on mission and breathed on them the gift of the Holy Spirit. He empowered them with His Spirit to forgive sins. This tells us how God forgives sins by the power of His Spirit through those He appointed then and now: “In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1444)
Administering the sacrament of Confession can, at times be routinary experience in ministry. A priest, given long lines in the confessional, may not feel how blessed he is to be an instrument of the Spirit in reconciling sinners to God. But when a minister of reconciliation realizes how God uses him to make people experience God’s compassion and love, he gets a renewed appreciation of this sacred gift and task entrusted to him. Some years ago, I gave a recollection to a group of parish lay leaders in a parish church located inside a village subdivision. During the break, I went outside the church to breathe some fresh air. Then, a car passed by. Suddenly it stopped and the driver went out of the car and approached me. He asked, “Are you Fr. Mylo?” A little puzzled I simply said, “Yes.” Then he continued, “Father, I do not know if you still remember me. Two years ago, I attended one of your retreats. I went to you for confession. I told you that I hadn’t gone to confession for 20 years. Well, it’s a surprise to see you here. We live just across the street. I just like to thank you for making me encounter the Lord once again through the beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation.” I never expected this affirmation from someone I could hardly remember. I looked at him and smiled, thanking God that He used me to bring this person back to Him.
Robert Schreiter shares that: “So much of the ministry of reconciliation is about waiting and listening: waiting on God, learning to be transformed by the discipline that waiting entails, and developing a listening heart.” (The Ministry of Reconciliation: Spirituality and Strategies, p.89, 1998) There have been many times I have waited inside the confessional for someone to confess. I have been tempted, in some instances, to leave because I feel that no one else will come. Just when I am about go, someone comes in. When I listen intently to his sincere confession, I am humbled and touched by how a repentant sinner wants to experience the forgiveness of God, wants be healed and become whole again. He is not the only one transformed when he received the Spirit of forgiveness. I, too, experience transformation as God’s Spirit used me to be an instrument of reconciliation for someone He loves dearly.
The sacrament of Reconciliation is also an experience of Pentecost. It is receiving the Spirit of forgiveness not just for the priest but for all those who desire healing, reconciliation and transformation in their lives.