Speaking at the Mass for Divine Mercy at Santa Rosa RC last Sunday, Archbishop Jason Gordon said people have told him, ‘I don’t have to confess to any man’. His response to them was “You don’t understand Christ because if Christ gives us the gift, it is because we need that gift.”
He continued that people walked away from the confessional encounter and “go and tell the whole world your business or they will pay a psychologist plenty money to tell your business” when the alternative is free of cost: “you can come and say your business for free and receive mercy”. Laughter continued when he suggested that should priests begin charging $1,000 per session for confession then maybe there would be a line!
Tracing the origin of the sacrament, he said Jesus gave the apostles the power to forgive or retain sins. “Jesus Christ is the one who sent the Church out to bring mercy to the world giving the apostles a permanent gift, and the apostles have handed it from generation to generation to their successors…I hand it to the priests every time they are ordained.”
Confession, he continued, was perhaps “an assault on our ego”. Humility is essential because pride and arrogance “blocked” people from accessing Confession. “Until we have the antidote for pride and arrogance, we will not find our way to being children of God and to receiving the Divine Mercy,” he said.
Before discussing Divine Mercy, he spoke of mercy in relationships, defining mercy as forgiveness “with a little extra”—wiping the slate clean and not rehashing the past during the next quarrel. Mercy was “unmerited” because “we are not dealing with two people on an equal footing. We are dealing with a person who has done real foolishness”.
Archbishop Gordon added that good and deep human relationships cannot exist without forgiveness. He said, “We also know a very good deep relationship that has made a pledge ‘til death’ cannot exist without mercy… I am proposing that anyone who is in any kind of good relationship already knows that mercy is something that is essential for them to live by, both to give and to receive.” He urged people to understand why mercy is necessary “at the human level”; mercy is a choice and “to be Catholic is to be merciful”.
God showed mercy by sending His Son when humans did not deserve mercy. On the cross Jesus accepted the anger, insults, violence and showed mercy saying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Archbishop Gordon stated, “God is not mercy. God is love. Mercy is what love does when the beloved does real foolishness.” Negative things like anger, wickedness, unforgiveness have no power because of the risen Christ.
The Archbishop appealed to Catholics who do not believe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to ask God to reveal why it is important. “It is by the confessing of our sins, it is by the emptying of our hearts, it is by that act of piety and humility that God’s Divine Mercy punctures the soul and gives us the message we need to cure the sin sickness of our soul.” He identified himself also as a sinner in need of Divine Mercy. – LPG
Archbishop Jason Gordon blesses a recently installed Divine Mercy image at Santa Rosa RC Church’s garden last Sunday. Parish priest Fr Steve Duncan (left) looks on. Photo: Raymond Syms