Monday, February 24, 2014

Redemption Impossible

I’ve got a confession to make. I love to watch makeover shows. Specifically, I love watching Restaurant Impossible, Hotel Impossible, and Kitchen Nightmares. All of these shows have the same basic premise, a troubled business calls for help, an expert comes in to save the day by renovating the décor (which almost always involves some serious cleaning), working with the owners and staff, implementing changes to workflows and practices. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The success or failure depends on how well the owners follow the expert’s advice.

As Catholics we experience our own version of a spiritual makeover, a kind of Redemption Impossible, when we encounter the Gospel. We’ve messed up. Through sin and bad choices we’ve allowed our souls to fall into disrepair. In our hour of need we call out to God to save us. We meet our Savior in the confessional. He hears our cry and pours out his grace upon us. Not content with merely fixing what’s broken, he redeems the mess of our lives and offers us new life. We are able to start anew with a clean slate and how well we grow depends on how well we follow his instructions.

Pope Francis recently discussed the sacrament of reconciliation during one of his Wednesday audiences. While the media may have conveniently forgotten to report on his comments, what he had to say was powerful. “Don’t be afraid of confession…When someone is in line for confession he feels all these things - even shame - but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves (feeling) free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy.” He reminded us that confession is a sacrament of healing and called for Catholics to “Be courageous, and go to confession.” Why does confession require courage? Because it calls for us to die to our pride, to admit that we have failed and cannot do it on our own.

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