A Homily for Reconciliation Liturgy during Advent

Recently, since I was “the new guy on the block” so to speak, I was asked to preach at a series of four liturgies over two weekends in our area. Four parishes use the same order of worship for the communal celebration of Reconciliation. The four pastors involved help with individual confessions during these liturgies. This is the homily I gave at the four parishes. 

The readings proclaimed during the liturgy were:
Isaiah 55:1-11
Luke 15:1-10

The point of any form of advertising is to get the consumer to come over to the side of the product being promoted. The object of any form of advertising is to get people to try the brand of the company doing the advertising.
Our car line is better! Come to our dealership and find out why!
Our store is better! You should be shopping here!
Our beer is best why drink anything else!

Now in Advent,we usually think about the fact that Jesus comes to us. The liturgy tends to invite us to remember Jesus came in the flesh and will come again at the end of this age. Jesus is who we usually think of as doing the moving.But we are also invited to respond to the message of Christ coming in our midst. We, too, need to choose, to decide to come to the side of right, to choose the justice ( that is the right order of God’s realm) reveled by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The message of advent is an invitation to come, to respond to the call to buy into God’s way shown by Christ. That “way” is an order of life where the relationships between humans and the relationship between humans and God is in correct, life-giving order.

But in our thirst, in our hunger we choose the wrong product. We choose an inferior brand. And just what is it that we want, what are we longing for? To be loved, to feel worthwhile. We want to feel important or necessary.

Frankly, Isaiah proclaims that God is saying “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my way is not your way!”

Humanity is out of order! Humanity is choosing a product that makes things worse between humans and between humans and God. And what is that inferior product? People choose selfishness. They choose self-interest. Folks choose to lookout for myself instead of serving others which is the way of Christ!

Sin is not breaking a commandment or rule of the church as much as choosing to listen to the false advertising claims of evil that in looking out for number one you and I will find what we’re looking for. Sin is deliberately choosing to be selfish and destroy or make difficult to see the relationship of love we have with others.
“Bless me father, I have sinned”…
I’ve refused to honor my wedding vows not by having an affair, but by getting angry with my spouse, I’ve made it difficult for her to realize that I’d do anything for her happiness by insisting that I’m right even if I am wrong and not letting the argument go.
“Bless me father, I have sinned”…
I’ve talked about those less fortunate than my self as if it’s their problem, not mine, and proclaimed publicly “they” haven’t worked hard enough to find a job instead of working to build a more just society.
“Bless me father, I have sinned”…
I’ve schemed at work on how to get other people to do my job and take the blame when things go wrong so I come off looking good and not get the blame. I’ve been trying to make the boss think the company’s success is all my effort and not sharing the credit!

Come back to the right order of things! Come to the Lord and take on the image of the Son of God you were baptized into, again, for he was totally unselfish! Only his Word, Jesus, produces the results we’re looking for, a life full of peace and joy.

But, we’re not going to be able to perfectly repair the damage selfishness does to the human community or our relationship with God. At our core, we’re born with a predisposition to selfishness, the original sin, so to speak. We need some one to COME TO US and save us from our self.

Jesus! Only Jesus, the selfless one can bring us to the right order of existence we desire. He CAME once before. He lived, died and in his resurrection revealed that his way, his order is the way of being that repairs the divisions of humanity and defeats sin.
He will COME AGAIN, to complete the work begun in his incarnation.

And so in the Sacrament of Reconciliation two movements are taking place.
WE COME to this sacrament, to discover that
HE COMES looking for us who have lost our way while looking for something to satisfy our thirst for happiness. HE COMES with hope, with healing, with the offer of a lifetime!

And, in our meeting, grace happens. The division, the hurt, our inadequate attempts to make life better which have brought about a disorder in this life are repaired. JESUS makes right, he restores order to humanity’s relationships and people’s relationship with  God through the power of his selfless love revealed on the cross that is made present in the words of absolution in the sacrament of Penance.

Let that power flow through you as a priest speaking in the name of the Body of Christ says “May God give you pardon and peace!” and rejoice that our coming together in reconciliation services and private celebrations of confession renews our hope that one day Jesus will come again with healing for the broken-ness of the human race, forever reconciling the disorder our choice of selfishness has brought to the world.

© 2011, Rev. Joseph C. Rascher

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About frjcrascher

Pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Trenton, IL View all posts by frjcrascher

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