April 14 – Third Sunday of Easter

From our daily confessions, which are many, to our week long confessions during the 5th week of Lent, our long Holy week confession lines, and our Divine Mercy service confessions, you would think that as a priest I would say, “Ok, no more confessions please!” However, I know that I will always both promote, and seek out the beautiful Sacrament myself. This is not only because it has a tremendous impact on my life, or because I’ve been consecrated as a priest of Jesus Christ to offer the Sacrament and forgiveness of sins. At an
even more fundamental level, our Gospel today points out that repentance and forgiveness of sins is the foundation of our Church, and needs to be proclaimed to the whole world (cf. Luke 24:47).

In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter recounts our Lord’s Passion to the crowds gathering after he performed a healing in the temple. He recalls the Israelite people choosing Barabbas, a murderer, over Jesus. What was St. Peter doing? He was encouraging those listening to “repent so that there can be forgiveness of sins” (cf. Acts 3:19). Barabbas has an interesting meaning in Scripture. Bar means “son of” and Abba means “father.” Hence, Israelite people were making a choice: which son of the father they would follow. Will they follow Barabbas, who followed his selfish passions, or Jesus, who surrenders himself completely as a self-gift?

This same choice is offered to us every day. How many of us choose our own selfish desires over that of a sacrificial love like our Lord? And if we choose selfishness, what should our response be? Well, as the readings and Gospel point out, we need to repent (again) and receive the forgiveness of our sins (again)!

As we journey in our faith together, can I encourage you to see the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a gift that the Lord desires you to receive? It is not a punishment, but a reception of great joy and love. The Lord is patient with us and always merciful. He is moving us by His grace to grow ever closer to him in this Sacrament. In receiving his mercy and love, we are able to respond in
mercy and love to the world. Even with all our scheduled confessions times, as your pastor, I will always be open to finding more opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be celebrated and received.

Father Michael