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Forgiven: The Transforming Power of Confession

Fr. Jhonatan Letada, SVD, a regular Mass celebrant at the CFC Global Mission Center, talked about the sacrament of confession during the regular monthly Metro Manila Mission Core Teaching Night which was held at the St. Paul College- Pasig Auditorium on March 20, 2018.

 

Fr. Letada anchored his reflection on the Gospel from Mark 2:1-12, the story of Jesus’ healing the paralyzed man. He explained that Jesus, in this particular gospel story, highlights the power of God, but it is power that is entirely different from the world’s understanding of the word.

 

According to Fr. Letada, “The world gives us its standard of power and the use of this power. But Jesus’ power is about healing. Forgiveness, wholeness, salvation, liberation, life— these are the manifestations of the power of God.”

 

“And Jesus went beyond physical healing in this gospel event. Why? Because Jesus knew that this man was in need of total healing of his person, of his relationshipwith his family, with the community and with God,” he added. This, Fr. Letada emphasized, is the essence of the sacrament of reconciliation, and it is through the transforming grace of the sacrament that man encounters God’s mercy.

 

“The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the most difficult one for us to receive,” Fr. Letada said. “It will always be hard to confess to any human being, especially to a priest, our failures and sins, the dark side of our personality.”

 

He enumerated several reasons why people find it difficult to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation:


•  one’s image of God, of the Church and ourselves;

•  confession involves only a listing of sins;

•  man’s inadequate sense of sin;

•  feeling uneasy about going to confession because of the inability to recognize and know himself deeply; and

•  the impersonal and legalistic approach to confession


Fr. Letada explained that the transforming power of the sacrament of reconciliation comes from conversion, penance, confession, reconciliation and forgiveness. He went on to expound on each impression on the sacrament of reconciliation:


•  Conversion− The sacrament fulfills Jesus’ invitation to conversion. And what is conversion? It means to go back to the right path. Man has been led astray in his course towards his permanent home, hence he needs to go back to God.The other word for conversion is metanoia, 'meta' meaning going beyond, and  'nos' meaning mind. Therefore, metanoia means “going beyond one’s mental construct”. Man has developed his own biases and prejudices, which is why people need to go beyond their mental construct and be liberated from judgments, prejudices, biases, and negative thinking.


•  Penance– The sacrament gears one for holiness, a personal and ecclesial process of repentance and reparation on the part of man, who is a sinner. In the sacrament of confession, man is not simply admitting his faults, mistakes, and sins, but he also sees the need for reparation.


•  Confession – Declaring and professing of sins before the priest is an essential element of the sacrament. One needs to acknowledge that the priest is the instrument, and the authority, on confession. Before one can do that, the one confessing should have an internal disposition of remorse much like the disposition of the prodigal son. When one admits and confesses that he has sinned, remorse is already present.


•  Reconciliation– The sacrament confers on sinners the love of God who reconciles. It is not man, who is the penitent, initiating reconciliation with God, but it is God’s grace, movement and initiative that allows man to personally offer, as well as accept, the gift of reconciliation.


•  Forgiveness – Through the sacramental absolution of the priest, God grants the penitent pardon and peace. Fr. Letada said, “Please, hindi po kaming mga pari ang nagpapatawad, wala po kaming kapangyarihang magpatawad. What we give is absolution to assure you, through the sacrament, that God has forgiven you. God has already pardoned you and given you His peace.”


However, Fr. Letada explained that in spite of the transforming effects of the sacrament, some still find it difficult to accept forgiveness.“ There is a reality of unforgiveness in us. Some of us cannot admit and accept that God has forgiven us,” he said.

 

He enumerated some of the reasons, based on psychology, why man finds it difficult to accept forgiveness - selfishness, hatred, perfectionism, pride, guilt, shame, bitterness and resentment. He added, “The more we deny us and others the gift of forgiveness, the more we put ourselves in danger and death.”


Dynamics of forgiveness

 

Fr. Letada quoted Fr. Martin Padovani, SVD, in his book Healing Wounded Relationships: “If you want God’s forgiveness to work for us and be a source of healing, we need to understand the dynamics of forgiveness.” Fr. Letada went on to say that:


•  Forgiveness is a grace – It is a gift from God. “Hindi ka makakapagpatawad kapag hindi mo tinanggap ang  biyayang ito.”

•  Forgiveness is not automatic in terms of our relationships – It is a process. When one is confronted with hurts, pain, bitterness and resentment, one must not be afraid. Instead, he must look at these things as a necessary process towards the state of grace, and rely on the hope that God will say, “You are in a healing process. Offer these to Me.”

•  Forgiveness of oneself– If we really believe in God’s constant forgiveness then one must also hold on to the truth that every moment, God calls man to forgive himself and those who sinned against him.

 

Fr. Letada shared his own story of reconciliation, when he and his father and stepmother, after years of estrangement, were able to come together and be reconciled.He encouraged the Mission Core members to make their homes a channel of reconciliation within their families, just like his family did.

 

“My dear friends, let your family, your home, be a home of God’s forgiveness and reconciliation. Let your family be a home of healing, a home of transformation where everyone is forgiven,” he said. (Andrelene Veloso)

Added on Thursday, April 5, 2018


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