YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: The Power of Sacramental Confession.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
HOMILY: (Read Timothy 4:12-16, Psalm 111 and Luke 7:36-50)
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
In today’s Gospel passage, we encounter a woman who received forgiveness of her sins as a reward for her act of humility and love. She had a bad reputation in the community so much so that Gospel writer does not mention her name but simply refers to her as a “sinner.”
This woman, however, did not allow her bad name to prevent her from displaying the content of her heart at the feet of Jesus. Words were not enough to express her contrition so she simply cried. She cried so much that upon discovering she had wet the feet of Jesus with her tears, she used her hair (her pride) to wipe them. Then she brought out her alabaster flask of ointment to anoint the feet of Jesus.
If we were to analyse step by step the action of this woman in this Gospel passage, we would see that each time we make a good confession, we are basically doing the same thing this woman did.
1. She would have decided to stay in her room and simply pray to God for forgiveness but she had to come to Jesus in a rather public place. For many people, their major problem with the sacrament of confession is how to bring themselves before a priest to talk about issues that are very personal to them. This is the humiliating part of confession, taking out one’s secrets before another.
Humility is an important step to receiving forgiveness of sins. It is bringing ourselves to the realization that we have not been perfect, that we need help and we cannot help ourselves. It is funny how we are not ashamed of confessing our dirtiest secrets to our doctor out of the fear dying or our lawyer so as to win a case in court but when it comes to saving our souls from eternal damnation, we prefer to lock ourselves in a room.
2. She was sorry for her sins. The foundation of a good confession is sincere sorrow for our sins. If we were to come to terms with the gravity of betraying a lover (God) who loved us to the point of sacrificing his child for us, we would weep for our sins. Upon seeing the face of Jesus when the cock crowed the third time, Peter could not hold back his tears. Although we are not required to cry at the confessional, we must be truly sorry for our sins at least from our heart.
3. Another thing this woman did was to pour and expensive ointment over the feet of Jesus. This oil must have caused her a fortune yet did not mind “wasting” it on the feet of Jesus. Forgiveness comes at a cost. When God offers us forgiveness, we do not just collect it with empty hands. We must let go of something; a sacrifice has to be made. This sacrifice is what is known as PENANCE.
Penance is that which the priest asks us to do when we go for confession. Penance is the expensive oil that we pour at the feet of Jesus. Even if the penance you are given seems light and easy bear in mind that it is a sacrifice (not a punishment); it is your alabaster jar and God sees your heart while you are offering your penance.
4. At the end of the day, Jesus said: “Do you see this woman? … I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” And facing the woman, Jesus said to her: “Your sins are forgiven.” There is something extraordinary about hearing “your sins are forgiven”, it is always uplifting and powerful. You feel like a newborn baby again. Of course, you cannot tell yourself “your sins are forgiven” you need to hear those words from a priest standing in the person of Christ at the confessional.
What if I stay in my room? Will God withhold his forgiveness from me?
5. Of course, God will never withhold forgiveness from a humble and contrite heart just as God will never refuse prayer requests because you prayed in your room. Sacramental confession is taking a step further, it is taking advantage of the gift of Jesus Christ when he gave power to His Apostles to forgive sins in His Name. (John 20:23).
6. Sacramental confession is ensuring that you become accountable at least to someone. If you are really ready to stop a particular sin, a bad habit or an addiction you must talk about it. Silence about our sins is one weapon the devil uses against us. You would not want to repeat the sin knowing you are going to meet the priest again.
7. In sacramental confession, we receive wise counsel free of charge. Do not assume you know how to avoid sin. The priest is a well-trained professional who has acquired years of experience listening to people and solving all kinds of cases. (You don’t want to know what the priest hears!) What we get freely at the confessional is what many pay thousands of dollars to get in the name of counselling.
8. Finally, every priest is bound by the oath of confessional secrecy. Whatever is said at the confessional dies there. The moment the words of absolution have been said, your sins have been forgiven and it is as though you never committed any of those sins. Even God does not remember your sins anymore.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, increase my love for you so that I may rather choose to die than commit even the slightest offence against you. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Timothy 4:12-16, Psalm 111 and Luke 7:36-50)