REAL LIFE CONNECTION The Divine Mercy and Confession
Mercy. We all need it. Daily.
Since the Fall, God has been seeking his people, giving them chance after chance, redemption after redemption, even to the point of sending his only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ seeks us again with the Divine Mercy, so much so that he came to deliver it himself.
We’ve all seen the classic picture of this apparition. It is beautiful and also has a mean- ing behind it. Jesus described the meaning to Faustina in one of the visions:
"The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.”
We can see that Christ offering us the mercy of his Passion once again. This time it is paired with a new image for us to relate to and new words to invoke often: Jesus, I Trust In You.
Although Jesus freely offers us his mercy, we have to participate in receiving it.
We must have sorrow for our sins. Confess our sins honestly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Receive absolution. Do the prescribed penance. Amend our life by not repeating the sins to the best of our ability.
It seems simple on paper, but these steps can be difficult. For instance, people may have an issue confessing their sins to a priest. To this, we can be assured that Jesus gave the power to his priests to forgive sins on his behalf. After his Resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins, telling his disciples, ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (John 20:21–23)
Catholic tradition believes that when a priest confers the sacraments he is in persona Christi, meaning “in the person of Christ.” (Luke 10:16) When we go to confession, it is actually Christ absolving our sins through the priest. It is nothing to be afraid of. It is so good for your soul, and allows you to grow closer to God and to confront the areas of sin in your life that need improvement. Oftentimes, it can be easier going to confession behind the screen. For me at least, this focuses my confession. It keeps a spiritual boundary of sorts in that confession is not a conversation or a therapy session. You are there to confess your sins in kind and number, starting with the most serious first. There’s always the off chance you will not receive sound advice in confession or a priest could act judgmentally. If this should happen, don’t use it as an excuse to avoid confession. Go to a different priest or parish next time.
Another thing that can keep us from accepting God’s mercy is our own judgment. Many times the most severe critic of our wrongdoing is us. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about this, and how people feel that more time needs to elapse for a sin to be really be “in the past.” He said this is limited thinking. Once we’ve confessed our sins and made right with God, we have a clean slate. God doesn’t want you living in the past and beating yourself up over whatever happened. Christ tells us in Scripture, “People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17) Believe you have a new start after your absolution, because you do!
Jesus Christ gives us a window into his nature with the Divine Mercy. Once again, he shows himself to be loving and merciful. It’s a false notion that God is always waiting to condemn us. That is what the devil wants us to think in order to keep us from returning to God out of fear. Jesus wants to set us free from the sin that weighs us down. It’s up to us to take the first step towards him to be free. Ask his forgiveness and experience the beauty of the Divine Mercy in your life!
REFLECTION Try saying, “Jesus, I trust in you” throughout your day. If you have time, pray the Chap- let of the Divine Mercy.
Reflect on this Scripture while you do: “The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning— great is your faithfulness! The LORD is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him. The LORD is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him...” Lamentations 3:22-25