St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Spiritual Resurrection                                                                                 Homily April 6, 2014

 

Lent is a time of penance, a special time for our purification, and for reconciliation with God. This Sunday we will have our Lenten penitential service, and I had not had the opportunity to speak about confession before. Let me reflect on the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation, in the light of the Gospel we have read today.

 

In the Gospel Jesus works the resurrection of a real dead, Lazarus of Bethany. In Confession, Jesus works the resurrection of our soul. Confession is a spiritual resurrection. And it is so, also, when our sins are not grave, because confession always raises us up to a renewal of our spiritual life and our love. Confession always gives new life.

 

I wonder why Christians sometimes don’t like to do confession, or don’t do it more often. What is the problem? Let us look at the Gospel.

 

1. Lazarus had been dead for four days. His own sister said to Jesus that there was already a stench. But for Jesus that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to what degree of corruption our heart has arrived. It doesn’t matter how far we have gone in our addictions, in our vices, in our disorders. Jesus is God, he can create in us a pure heart. Magdalene rose up from her sins of impurity to a life of penance similar to the life of John the Baptist. She was forgiven. Zaccheus rose up from a life of corruption to a life of justice, giving back all he had stolen and giving even more to the poor. He was forgiven. St. Paul rose up from pride and persecution, from violence and Phariseism to a passionate love for Christ and his Church. He was forgiven. We can also be a miracle of the mercy of God. He always forgives. He just needs us to open the door, to roll back the stone.

 

2. Lazarus returns to his normal life. Confession does not transform you into a strange person, someone scary. Some people think that frequent confession is something proper to a saint, and they think that a saint is a kind of strange being, similar to a beautiful statue that nobody can touch, or someone who lives in a different world, an ideal world of piety. First, frequent confession is not the proper of a saint but of a sinner. You ask for forgiveness because you are conscious that you have sinned. Second, to be a saint does not transport you to a different world. To be a saint incarnates you more and more in reality. To be a saint is to love your neighbour, and when you love you act, you do things, you speak, you get involved.

 

The sacrament of reconciliation gives us new life, a new life that makes our human life more beautiful. John Paul II was a saint: he was normal, he was just great. Gianna Beretta Molla, mother of four children, was a saint. When they came to the door of her husband from the Vatican, to say to him that they wanted to canonize her, her husband just said: “But she was just a normal woman, she was my wife…” Dear brothers and sisters, I have to say that you yourselves don’t realize that you are saints sometimes. When you suffer so simply for your children that don’t come to Mass, or when you live so joyfully your Christian life, when you help so gladly people around you, when you suffer so firmly the backslashes of life, you are doing things that are proper to saints. You are being normal, but according to the norm of God, which is love.

 

3. Lazarus does not do anything. He is dead. It is not so difficult to do confession. The only thing you need is to have committed a sin. You don’t need to suffer; the one who cries is Jesus. If we have died because of our sins, we need to remember that we have a friend that cried for that, and wants to wake us up, so that we may eat and drink again with him. We have just to roll back the stone. The stone of our self-sufficiency, the stone of our lack of faith in the sacrament of reconciliation, the stone of laziness, the stone of despair in the power of God. When we roll back the stone, the voice of Jesus can reach the bottom of the tomb, and even if there is a stench in our heart we can come back to life.

 

May the Lord grant us confidence in the power of Jesus to forgive. May the Lord grant us a great hope in his merciful love. He could not do more to forgive our sins. Let us give him the opportunity to be good to us, to love us and transform our lives. –Fr. Andrew