5th Sunday of Lent: John 8 1-11
Non Catholics are very often upset about the Catholics notion of confession. The reason they are upset about the notion of confession is that some Catholics had told them that they can commit any kind and number of sins provided they make a confession. They are upset at the idea of confession, for according to them it is a license to sin. One non catholic sarcastically told me that he is very soon going to become a catholic because he could lead a wild and sinful life and still his sins be forgiven by a single confession. He said that according to his catholic friends; the sacrament of confession is a license to sin.
Today I would like to share with you a few thoughts on this matter and clear up any misunderstandings. Many people today do not have a very clear understanding about the sacrament of confession. How do we make a good confession? The one making a Confession is called the penitent. A penitent is a person performing penance under the direction of a confessor. The penitent is the one who is ashamed and sorrowful. Because he/she is ashamed and sorrowful he/she is ready to express regret for their sins and misdeeds. With trust in God’s love and mercy, the penitent, then, prepares to seek forgiveness and reconciliation by doing the following: examining the conscience to know what sins to confess; expressing sorrow for the sins; resolving never to sin again; making a Confession of the sins to a priest in kind and number; and, doing the penance assigned to do by the priest in Confession. This will help a person to repent. The word “repentance” in the Bible means “to turn around.” Making a U-turn is a good example of repentance. The person is ready to turn around because that person understands that leading a life as he/she thinks best is going to be a disaster. The person is, therefore, willing to leave behind the old life style in order to accept a new and a better one. Therefore repentance and a strong resolution to sin no more is necessary for confession. In that sense confession is not a license to sin, but a strong determination to give-up sins and wild life and become a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Today’s story from the gospel of St. John will help us to understand what happens at the time of confession. They brought the sinful woman to Jesus to pass judgment. But Jesus told them “”Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. What did Jesus write on the ground? He might have been writing the sins of the Pharisees who brought that woman to Jesus to punish. As a result they went away one by one. So she was left alone with Jesus before her. There is no one left, but she and her Jesus. When she faced Jesus, she was facing the ultimate judge! What does that teach us? No matter who you are, there will come a time in your life when you will face Jesus, the ultimate Judge. Eventually, somewhere, someday you are going to have to face Jesus. In the ultimate judgment you will not have a choice. But now you have a choice! You can either confess your sins and receive his forgiveness and go home as a new and different person to lead happy and holy life or you can wait for the ultimate judgment where there is no more chances and option.
At the sight of Jesus two kinds of responses are taking place; the sinful woman receiving forgiveness and the crowd walk away without receiving forgiveness. Since the crowd was not willing to repent, they chose to walk away. They should have stayed. The woman did, and she received mercy. Jesus showered upon her Mercy and washed away her sins. This woman was guilty as charged. Jesus knew that he was the only one qualified to cast a stone at this woman and kill her. Rather than choosing to condemn and kill that sinful woman Jesus choose to die for her sin. Can you imagine anything more wonderful than this? This woman was caught in the very act of adultery, humiliated, and about to be killed and Jesus steps in. She is saved, saved from the mob, saved from the Law, and saved from her sin. She has a new life and a new start. This is what Jesus does for each of us! This is what happens when you come to Jesus. He forgives your sin and then grands you to a new life with a new start.
Maybe Like this woman, your life has been broken down and ruined by sin. Maybe you are looking for a compassionate Savior, One who will make everything right. I want to invite you to come to Jesus. He cares about you just as you are. He loves you and wants to save you. He wants to deliver you from your bondage. He wants to set you free. Therefore, He invites you to come to Him today. If there is issues in your life that need to be settled, this altar is the place where they can be taken care of, the confessional is the place where they can be taken care of forever. He will send you free with his words of absolution: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and sin no more” Will you bring your life to Jesus and let Him make it over?
To make it more personal, this story resonates with all of us. Many of you are listening to me have committed adultery, and you are thankful and hopeful because the Lord is merciful. Many of you listening to me have not committed adultery, but Jesus’ mercy to the adulteress should mean a lot to you, for you have looked at others with lust and thereby have committed adultery in your hearts (Mt 5:28). Some of you listening to me have neither committed adultery nor looked lustfully. Nevertheless, Jesus’ mercy to the adulteress should be important to you, for it was only by God’s mercy that you received the grace to overcome temptations. You can say what St. Augustine said when he saw a disgraceful sinner: “But for the grace of God, there go I.”