Sacrament of Reconciliation
compiled by Sr Sarah Akombo, fsp
The celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation brings about healing in the penitents and enables them to live a life of holiness, by being moulded more into the image of Christ as they listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This Sacrament gives us energy and strength in our life-long journey of conversion both at individual and family levels. The call to conversion, which is renewed for us in many ways, is also directed towards joining in the eternal banquet with all the saints. Through conversion, we keep alive the light of faith that we have received in baptism in order to enter the wedding feast wearing the baptismal garment.
The Sacraments of healing (Reconciliation and Anointing of the sick) play a very important part in the life of the Christian community and yet they are not fully understood. The sacrament of reconciliation is the story of a God who never turns away from us, not even when we fail to live in communion with him. God’s mercy, compassion and love are always greater and stronger than our selfishness and egoism. In fact, God reaches out to us in our sinful situation and brings healing into our life. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God waits, watches, and hopes for our return every time we choose to turn away from him and live our life according to our self-centered plans. Like the son in the parable, we are called to recognize our sinfulness, especially during this Lenten season, which is very important penitential time which, if it is properly celebrated, can truly renew the Christian community in its baptismal calling. The penitential dimension of lent, in fact, must be seen within the wider context of the preparation of catechumens for the sacraments of initiation and the desire of the church to renew in the baptismal promises.
To return to our father, and welcome God’s love in our broken life (cf. Lk 15: 14-32). Then we will be able to celebrate the joy of forgiveness, the joy of being saved and restored to our baptismal identity as beloved sons and daughters of the father, brothers and sisters of Christ, anointed and consecrated by the Holy Spirit to be members of the ecclesial Body of the Lord. God’s unconditional offer of forgiveness is at the basis of this sacrament. The risen Lord, through the church, continues to speak to us of his forgiveness and of our beautiful and challenging calling to conversion and holiness. Our daily experience of sin leads us to know the power of God’s grace, the mercy that is bestowed on us as well as the joy of being once again reconciled and renewed. Then, together with the whole church, we can sing the great Alleluia at Easter.