Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, ‘Peace be to you!’ And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore rejoiced at the sight of the Lord. He therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed upon them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’
For the month of March, our parish prayer focus is Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Our hope is that, through prayer, as a community we will experience an increase in forgiveness of and from our families, our friends, our colleagues and our parish community and that we will turn to our heavenly Father to receive his forgiveness and mercy. To both receive and extend forgiveness, we need an ‘open’ heart, a heart that is willing to accept that we have sinned and need forgiveness but also that we need to forgive those who have hurt us. ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..’
We have collected on this page a number of resources that we hope will help us to reflect on our need for God’s forgiveness and mercy and turn back to him this Lent through prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Whilst the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a very personal matter, it is important to remember that there is a community dimension to it too. During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God's forgiveness and our return to the very heart of our Church family.
Sharing in the Sacrament is the way in which we acknowledge the struggle of our life for perfection and the realisation that our life of Faith is in the context of the believing community. The priest represents both Christ and the Church in this encounter. The counsel and direction that the priest may give is to help us redirect our life where it has not fulfilled the spiritual potential that we might have due to sin.