28th Feb, Third Sunday of Lent Year C

Introduction
Scripture today revisits the theme of sin and repentance. Sin is a bad word today, we daren’t mention it. But, though we bury our heads in sand, it remains. Paul shows its grave consequences, and Christ says: “unless you repent you will all perish”. Lets confess ways we fail to repent of destructive sin in our lives.

Homily
“Unless you repent you’ll all perish”. Christ’s words should shock us. For sin is soul death, remorse life. Even the world knows this. Secular papers say about such as terrorists bombings: “They’re monsters, without remorse”. They say the same about unrepentant child-abusers, they recognize sin’s evil and the healing need for remorse. If even non-believers see unrepentant wrongdoing as inhuman, how much more should we. Saying sorry is life. And if Christians, called to high values, are hardened in sin what hope is there for the world. Don’t heed the modern view that guilt’s unhealthy; its a healthy warning sign, like pain warns us of disease. We need to know when we do wrong. Fascism inhumanity was in its lack of remorse and today’s mall bombers, child-molesters, corrupt politicians, and serial killers often show the same inhuman lack of guilt. So we can’t we let children out and old people hide behind locked doors? Sin reigns now too and repentance is needed lest society disintegrate altogether.
Even more needed is a new tuning of consciences, dulled by a worldly ignoring of sin. Otherwise individuals and society will continue to suffer. For God doesn’t ask us to avoid sin because he’s a tyrant; he is perfect, he doesn’t need our compliance. As our loving Father, He asks us to avoid sin because its just plain bad for us. Untold ills come from a libertine blurring of right and wrong. Like Fascism, following our desires without restraint and feeling no guilt is disastrous? And we know it; why do we demand remorse of abusers? Deep down we are also adverse to sin. Even high profile figures such as Mel Gibson came to see this. He recovered faith and conscience by reflecting on Christ’s Passion; it saved him from self-destructive drug and alcohol abuse. “Unless you repent you too will perish”. The warning is for now.
So is the church warning not to abandon confession. When we go wrong, we need to be reconciled with ourselves, others and God. To restore our integrity, conscience, our good angel, needs to be tuned up every so often and confession is the perfect way to do that. It is the greatest aid in our journey from sin to the freedom of God’s children. Its not enough to confess privately to God; that’s a cop out. James says: “confess our sins to one another that you may be healed”. We need to confess to other human being to be made whole. Even Psychologists say abusers won’t know peace until they show remorse and admit their wrong to another human being. Its why we’re bombarded with pictures of Fr.Smith and headlines “this inhuman monster showed no remorse”.
Though our sins may be scarlet, as the first reading says, God in confession can make them white as snow. But unconfessed and unrepentant, the pride of sin can harden into the obstinacy of evil. That’s the Gospel. The barren fig tree in God’s fertile vineyard is the state of those who abandon God’s way and refuse to repent. Especially we, members of Christ’s kingdom through baptism, dare not ignore his words: repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand. The fig tree produced no fruit. Sin prevents us from bearing good fruit. Confession is not about repeating trivial faults but liberating us to really be. That’s why in Celtic Ireland the confessor was “anam cara” a soul help in our journey to God. For sin leaves us empty and loaded down with guilt before eternity, but Christ in repentant forgiveness is love, peace and happiness for this world and forever, amen.
So as Gods people constantly repenting lest we go “the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire”, lets profess our faith.

Prayers of the Faithful
And as God’s people called to constant repentance and spurning of sin, lets pray to our Father for our on-going spiritual health.

For our holy Father and church leaders that they may courageously call the world from sin to all that’s right, true and good.

For civil leaders that facilitating their people’s spiritual and moral welfare they may exercise a wise stewardship at all levels.

For youth, may they retain a wise consciousness of sin and the need for repentance when they do wrong, so as to be internally free children of God and witnesses to wise integrity on earth.

For ourselves, at home may we encourage our children to practice confession, a meeting with Christ that bears fruits even if we do no wrong, for it nourishes us on our spiritual journey in God.

For the sick in body or soul, through our prayers and love may they come that fullness of life and healing which is God’s will.

For the dead that freed at last from any residue of sin they may come to the full glory of heaven helped by our prayers.

And we ask this through Christ our only lord of love, life, and healing forgiveness, forever and ever amen.

Reflection
In the early Irish church the confessor was anam cara, a soul friend. He helped people’s spiritual life by encouraging them to talk about their moral problems and experience God’s forgiveness. Ideally, confession isn’t a mechanical listing of peccadillos but an aid to spiritual, psychological and moral health. Helped by confessors, we reveal habits that trouble, hold back, or oppress us. If we’ve no serious sins, regular confession’s sacramental meeting with Christ, brings great grace. So whether we prefer confession as a chat with a priest, or prefer the old way, lets pray that either way we’ll see how vital it is to our moral and spiritual life as we journey with Christ’s church – Hail Mary

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