Paul was at his son’s First Penance Service. His son, Andrew, had just come back from talking to the priest with a big smile on his face. “That wasn’t scary at all, you were right!” he said to his Mom and Dad. And then Andy looked at his father and said, “Mommy just went to confession, aren’t you going to go too?”
Now Paul couldn’t remember the last time he had gone to confession. That was the last thing he wanted to do now. But for whatever reason he said to his son, “You know what, that’s a great idea. I’ll be right back.”
And so Paul went to confession. As he waited in the line he began thinking over his life. He was even thinking that he had questioned why a person even had to bother to confess your sins to a priest anyway.
The line was getting shorter and in another minute it was his turn. So Paul goes into the Reconciliation Room and kneels behind the screen. He was nervous. Do I really tell my serious sins that I’ve been running from for all these years, or do I just say a few harmless sins and get the heck out of here?
Here’s what came out of his mouth: “I guess I should be honest with you, Father, I’m really here because my son just asked me to do this. I want to set a good example, but I guess I really wasn’t taking it seriously for myself. But for some reason I now feel that I should.”
And so Paul confessed the serious sins—the things he was ashamed that he had done so many years ago: that he had been unfaithful to his wife back in the early years of their marriage, that he had stolen from his company one time, and that he was holding a lot of anger and resentment in his heart against his father.
The priest listened and didn’t interrupt. When Paul was finished, he then said, “When I give you absolution for your sins you will be a completely new man. All these sins are taken away by Christ on the cross. He wants to be a part of your life and walk with you by your side as you leave this church. But do you realize that you are not here because you want to give a good example to your son? That was the way that Christ called you back. You could have refused. Instead, you had character and courage to admit the truth—to admit you’ve done wrong, and now hopefully you will receive the grace of the sacrament. Commit yourself to Christ each day of your life. Stay with Him because he is faithful. Christ will strengthen you and guard you from all that is evil. And do your best now to forgive others as you have been forgiven by Christ.”
We are asked today, especially through that first reading, to have the courage to make a commitment to Christ. Those Jews would rather die than betray their faith in God. We need to make a commitment if we have not done that already. This doesn’t mean that we have to now magically make ourselves perfect in the sight of God. We have our weaknesses. We carry them with us wether we like it or not.
But remember this: Only those who have been forgiven by Christ and know they need his forgiveness stay faithful to him. Those who deny their weakness and think they don’t need Jesus will end up drifting away or never really making that commitment.
Let Christ call you back to himself, no matter what your sins are or were. You asked to be faithful because there is something Jesus needs you to do for him. And that will be revealed in the Lord’s good time.