On Friday 9th March, Pope Francis presided over a penitential liturgy at St Peter’s. The Word of God was proclaimed, a homily preached and different priests, including the Holy Father, were available for people to make their confession. Among the penitents was Pope Francis. At an interview given soon after his election he was asked: ‘Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” “I am a sinner. This the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”
The joy of our faith as expressed in today’s readings is that we are forgiven sinners, that our God is one who gives us opportunity after opportunity. Through our sins we go away from God, however God never departs from us. As the beautiful painting of the Merciful Father reminds us in our parish, our God is like a Father waiting for the wandering child. This nature of God is more clearly expressed during this time of Lent and especially in this Fourth Sunday, Laetarae Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing. The greatest joy we have is to be forgiven sinners, people who have had mercy shown them.
We experience the mercy of God in a special way in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is not supposed to be a spiritual laundrette at which we take off the dirt of our sins which have stuck to us during our life. In his homily last Friday Pope Francis commented the gospel of Peter’s denials. He said that at that point of disappointment Peter understood that he needed to be loved, he needed to allow himself be loved. Confession is that experience in which we are loved, we let ourselves be loved, we experience the freedom of acknowledging our mistakes because there is someone who assures us that the future can be different.
Pope Francis prayed that we may know and experience the greatness of God’s love for us, a love that cancels our all our sins and that purifies us.
No matter how many weeks, months or decades since your last confession… profit of this favourable time and experience the joy of being forgiven.