Confession can be quite intimidating. Left to our own devices, we would avoid anything of the sort altogether. We do not like to think about our faults, let alone give ourselves ample time to think about our sins, and least of all to confess all our sins to another person. We do not want to do any of these things, and yet, these are the very things that breathe life into our souls. Why? Because preparation for confession and confession itself both prepare us to meet Christ and bring us to Christ Himself, the only person who can offer us forgiveness for our sins, the only person who can offer us new life.
Not only is confession good for us, but it offers us a profound understanding of just how incredibly personal God’s love is for us. Confession is about as personal as any experience can get. It is incredibly humbling to confess my sins out loud with my own voice with the knowledge that another person is listening with his own two ears. This particular person, this priest, will respond with his voice, asking if I am sorry, offering hope in the way of penance–something I can do to combat my sin and work against it–and say my sin is forgiven.
After I confess, I can attend mass and witness the same priest offer prayers for me and speak on behalf of Christ to me. I can go to the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, with great thanksgiving and in awe of the love God has for me, for this same priest who heard my confession now offers me the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ given up for me. The particularity of the priest reveals to me ever more clearly the particularity of the love of Jesus for me. The priest, in the stead of Christ, hears my sins, forgives my sins, and subsequently gives himself up for me out of love. Through the priest, Jesus looks on me with love and brings me to the Table to be with him, that I might be with him evermore.
What a beautiful thing it is that Jesus knows our every sin and still desires reconciliation with us. He knows our sins, and He still draws us near to Him. He knows us; yet, He looks on us with love. What a gift it is that God offers us priests who offer us Himself in this way. Let us pray for our priests and for more shepherds who will bear the love of Christ to His flock.