I was just reading John Paul II's encyclical "The Mercy of God" this morning and I was really struck by a comment he made. He said, "Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man.(emphasis included in the original text)"
WOW!!! That's great news. We see in this that the Sacrament of Confession is far more than just going in some little room and saying the wrong things we've done. It truly is a meeting with Christ, it's a meeting that restores us to our original dignity and allows "all things to work for good for those who believe in God." God even uses our sin to bring us to a closer relationship with Him. Just as the prodigal son was brought into a deeper relationship with his father when he realized the error of his ways and returned to his father and confessed his sin and sorrow, so are we brought into a closer relationship with our Father when we see the ways we've lived beneath our true dignity and go back to Him and confess our faults and failings. Far from belittling us, Pope John Paul II says that true mercy restores us.
And it's not only in Confession that these realities are lived out. We are restored and we offer restoration every time we offer mercy to someone else. Many times among our families and friends, deep wounds are inflicted and we go months, maybe even years, in bitterness and silence. At some point we have to ask ourselves, "Is this really in keeping with my dignity? Is this really worth all of the hatred and sorrow it inflicts?" Perhaps we need to go and say we are sorry and ask for forgiveness. Perhaps we need to tell someone that we forgive them before they even ask us. Thank goodness that forgiveness is an act of the will, and not a feeling. We do our best and ask God to help us forgive those truly who have hurt us. Only then, when we are open to forgiveness and forgiving, do we truly live in the peace of Christ.
I am posting the video below of a song by Christian singer Brandon Heath. When I first heard this song, it really touched me and in the video he explains how the song came about. This song is about conversion and the grace of God...something we all need!