Aloha Friday Message – March 29, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #4

1913AFC032919 – 2019 Lenten Series #4

A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 3

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    2 Corinthians 5:17-18 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today we pick up on the end of a conversation between two buddies named Frank (F:) and Earnest (E:) with some help from the Narrator (N:). We finished up with the Narrator asking, ” (WHAT STOPS US FROM REPENTING? That’s something to think about, OK? For next week try thinking about who repents to whom, and why we often decide not to repent.”)

N: (Previously on A Frank and Earnest Conversation:)

E: You’ve given me a lot to think about. That narrator, too. Maybe I should get home and pull out the laptop and find the Catechism of the Catholic Church (↔ Click Link) and look for the word “repent” I can get some more ideas.

F: Good thinking. RIGHT THINKING! Say hi to Ethel when you get home.

E: Thanks. I will. I wonder if that narrator will be around?

F: I imagine so. He’s got some closing remarks to do here.

N: (Thank you guys for being frank and earnest in your conversation.)

F: Very funny.

E: Yeah, like who else could we be?

N: (It sounds like maybe we need to think more about why we DON’T repent. You folks out there, reading this, WHAT STOPS US FROM REPENTING? That’s something to think about, OK? For next week try thinking about who repents to whom, and why we often decide not to repent.)

N: (And now the conversation continues….)

E: I think I see what you’re getting at. What Jesus really wants from us is conversion, but not just as a one-time-thing. It needs to be a continuous process – like living with a good habit.

F: That makes sense, doesn’t it, given what we know about God’s call to repentance? If we experience conversion, and then act on it, that is metanoia – turning away from sin and back to God – in a very real and special way.

E: Yeah, I see; it’s like “Conversion plus action equals … holiness.” But riddle me this, Frank, how come we have to go to a Priest and everyone else just goes directly to God? Why can’t we do that, too?

F: The Church teaches that Reconciliation is a Sacrament, not a DIY project. Because it is a Sacrament, it is firstly instituted by Christ, secondly carried forward by the Church, and thirdly must be conducted by Ordained Clergy with the authority to perform the Sacrament. Not all Christian churches treat reconciliation as a Sacrament. Our Church does.

E: So you’re saying that Ordination makes it possible for a Priest to forgive sins, is that right?

F: Almost. Think about the prayer of absolution the Priest says: “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.” God has reconciled us to himself, and it is through the ministry of the Church that God pardons us at the moment when the Priest exercises his Sacramental authority received during his ordination to carry out Christ’s instructions found in John 20:21-23. Hey, Narrator, how about a little help with that?

N: (Sure thing: 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”)

F: Our Church’s teaching is that Christ himself gave the Apostles the authority to provide absolution. This occurred because they experienced what is called “an ontological change.” The remain human and sinful – like all of us – but unlike all of us, Christ has imputed, assigned, righteousness to them which no one could ever earn through personal effort. That ontological change is passed down through the Apostolic Succession so that each ordained Priest receives the same authority.

E: Huh! That’s something I hadn’t thought about. It must be even more difficult now with all the furor over the errors made by a small cadre of errant Priests and the hierarchy surrounding them.

F: Sad but true. But even there, those who repent have access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Remember, it requires conversion and action – including penance accompanied by the act of restitution and the experience of renewal. That is what the Apostle Paul referred to as the “ministry of reconciliation.” That means we can have our relationship with Christ restored through the forgiveness of our sins which is promised as being available to us through Christ when we acknowledge regret for our sins and repent, confess our sins and do penance, and seek and accept his forgiveness.

E: That sounds a little complicated, but still, it makes sense. I think you’re telling me that God always makes it possible for me to get back to him and be restored to his Grace. It makes me wonder, though, how some people can regret their mistakes and try to make amends with God but their lives are still a mess. How does that happen?

F: There are still always the temporal consequences of sin that must be lived out. Let’s try another example from the Old Testament. Do you remember that Bible passage we hear during Lent in Exodus 17:6 when Moses struck the rock at Meribah?

E: Sure. God told him to strike the rock with his rod and then water came out.

F: Very good; now do you remember the second time Moses struck a rock?

E: There was a second time? Remind me how that happened.

F: The first time, God told Moses to strike the rock. The second time, God told Moses to speak to the rock – to command the rock to yield its water. Moses didn’t do what God told him to do, and because of that, God forbade him from entering the Promised Land. That’s a harsh lesson we often overlook. As righteous and holy as Moses was, the only man to stay in the Presence of the Lord so long that some of the Lord’s Sh’khinah glory made his face and garments glisten will brilliant light, Moses had to endure the temporal punishment for not trusting God and for not showing God’s holiness before the Israelites.

E: Well, wow! Now I’m convinced that it’s hopeless for me to be holy. I’m right back at “What’s the point?”

F: The point is that you don’t have to be holy to be reconciled. The point is that reconciliation restores us to friendship with, in, and for God. Then we experience a restoration of the state of Grace God intended for us when He created us. We are spiritually reborn, converted from a sin-stained soul and reconformed to the image of God. We are radically changed and able to recognize, accept, and make use of the graces God has given us; we are made new again. We do this in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we experience a humbling encounter in a person-to-person setting. There are always three persons in that setting: Me, the Priest, and God. It is Jesus who is listening to me recounting my sins. It is the Holy Spirit who is guiding my confessor’s spiritual instructions and provision of absolution. It is God the Almighty and Everliving Creator who provides everyone with this Grace of repentance and reconciliation.

E: I don’t know. That sounds pretty convincing, but I’m still not sure I can make it last.

F: I understand. Let me ask you a question. What is the shortest possible measure of time?

E: I’m no good at math! Maybe a micro-nano-second?

F: No, the shortest measure of time is a “moment.” Remember? It Only Takes A Moment to be loved a whole life long? It only takes a moment to do one holy thing. Can you picture yourself being completely abandoned to God and utterly, profoundly in Love with him if only for a moment? Isn’t it possible you can actually do that, even for just a moment? *

E: Well, if you put it that way, I guess so.

F: Imagine then, that if you can do that once, then you can do that a second, and third, and fifth, and ninetieth, and a 4,357th time. Further, if you can make that many of your moments holy, then you will be different because you are developing the habit of holiness. Repentance and reconciliation is God’s gift to you – especially during Lent – to help you remember that you are created in HIS image, created to be holy, and to help you with that he keeps giving you more moments to “do whatever he tells you.” God does not see us as being holy as he is Holy, but he does see us continually striving for holiness and treasures us every moment we make our lives a holy moment for him. God is always present in our messed-up lives – even in our messed-up church – and because of that we can always be reconciled to him through this most beautiful (N: And most underutilized!) Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is a very personal dialogue with him.

E: I guess I really shouldn’t worry so much about what the Priest will think of me then. I should just go in there and get it over with.

F: Maybe you could just go in there and get it started again? Don’t be afraid to approach Christ this way. He took on our human nature to do something we cannot do for ourselves: Redeem us.

E: I see what you mean. Every repenting followed by reconciliation is a new beginning – like the Apostle Paul said – and all I need to do is accept that this is the will of God for me and believe firmly in his divine wisdom, justice, and mercy. That makes a lot more sense than skipping confession because I think it makes me look bad. I already know how I look; I look like a sinner, but I also already know how I can look. I can look like a redeemed sinner!

F: Brother, you bring joy to my heart to hear you say that. And if you listen carefully you will hear the Angels rejoicing, too. God bless you, Ernie!

E: I guess I understand now why so many of us don’t repent, don’t seek the Sacrament of reconciliation. It’s Pride. Talk about “stiff-necked people!” It has been my lack of – my refusal to accept the importance of – humility in my life. Humility is, in a way, a masterful blend of the Four Cardinal Virtues – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Humility gives us the power to be a statesman rather than a politician, a servant rather than a ruler, and a child of God rather than a spawn of evil. Humility is the form of Love Jesus showed by coming to us as an infant – helpless, impoverished, homeless, and yet mightiest of the Mighty.

F: Well, said Ernie! With that attitude, you really can Go Make A Difference. (↔ Music Link) It’s that lack of humility that seems to negate our awareness of sin. We no longer have a sense of sin, what it is, or how much it affects our lives. We excuse it by telling ourselves “Oh, it’s not all that bad,” when instead we still consciously and knowingly choose to disobey God’s call to holiness. We conclude we’re not as sinful as everyone else and so we don’t need to repent. That is a serious error, and it’s really hurting the Church. Ernie, your moments of holiness, along with many other’s moments, can actually help all of us correct that error.

N: (Thanks for tuning in. Someday we might continue this conversation, but that’s all for now.)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

* Want to learn more? Read Matthew Kelly’s The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity or join him at The Best Lent Ever  at Dynamic Catholic.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Type answer *

Pages Email Newsletter Categories Archives Connect