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Homily: a confession

January 9, 2013

The Prophetess

What is it about confession that makes many people squirm? I would imagine it has to do with the idea that one feels guilty of something, and in this, there is an expectation that one must confess. This seems rather dull, and not worthy of any serious unease, particularly if one is confused on the nature of confession. I say this because if a person does something that might need confessing, and squirms just thinking about it, this person is not about confessing. The only time an act is done in purity, or with sincere intent, is when it comes in the desire. One should desire to confess. It is only effective if it is effective. Simple enough–right?

But someone might say, “We [ Catholics, Anglicans …] confess before we receive Communion. We are required to confess in order to receive with purity. My only question here would be, why must you be required to confess in order to receive something which is free? It is free –correct? Christ gave this Gift as a freedom. I receive gifts from family members without confessing that they sometimes annoy me and I must leave the room, and take a deep breath. And I have no desire to confess that they annoy me, and yet, I still receive their gifts, and enjoy them, and profit from them, and feel no guilt about it, especially generous food items. I think they would prefer that I just enjoy the gift, use it, and avoid confessing that they annoy me, for this would ruin the giving of the gift. In truth, I probably annoy them, too.

Okay, let’s look at this from another perspective. Confession of Faith. This is another concept of the word confession. For many, this is absolved in a creed. It reads as a sort of blanket confession, which I would imagine translates as … if I recite the creed of our faith, I am a believer, and I am rendered ‘satisfactory absolved’ of certain sins, and this does not require me to confess, but it does require me to live according to what is stated in the creed, and as a believer in the creed, by stating it, I am satisfying an obligation to my faith–my belief. 

 

 

Satisfactory absolved.  If we look at this as a grade on the report card of our lives, I’d say we hang in the middle of godliness. It’s not EXCELLENT, and it’s certainly not FAIL, but where does it place us in the other realm? The “not of this world” realm? The one that has to do with God–the Spirit realm?  I’m not sure many believers in their faith think much about this. Why? Because they have become of the understanding of man’s interpretation of God purity, and this barely relates to God, or Communion. Why? Because Communion is of God, having to do with a form of prayer, or communication, which would mean that satisfactory creed, that confession of faith, is not God. It is a creed; it is not God. Two entirely different concepts.

 

 

 

Now, let’s combine these two “definitions” of confession. Let’s take the Sacrament of Confession and the Confession of Faith and join them. What do we have? If we do this right, we take the Greek understanding of sacrament and we call it MYSTERY, and pair it with one’s Faith, we end up with Mystery of Faith. Wow. I don’t know about you, but this gives me a completely different understanding than either of these alone. First, the Mystery pertaining to God is just that–a Mystery. Unique. I don’t view this as unattainable, unreachable, or without the gift of understanding, but I do view it as unique to God, or of God, and not of man, therefore, not of religion. God never instituted religion as being necessary for confession, or faith. If we look to Scripture for clarification in this, we find no concrete passages that tell us that religion is a requirement for confessing or forgiving. There are least 49 verses pertaining to repentance, but not one says anything about any particular religion, but Christ does say:

“Peace BE with you.” When he said this, He showed them HIS hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on THEM, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the SINS of any, they are retained.”

By showing His disciples His hands and His side, He demonstrates His use TO them. The hands are the hands of iniquity; the side is the justice served on behalf of all mankind.  As the Father sends Me, I also send you. Here, Christ calls these to receive that which abides in Love, that which allows forgiveness, and that which retains it. This not saying if you are in the vocation of priest you can forgive sins which is then forgiven by God. Unless one is born anew, one cannot forgive or retain the sins of any. What Christ is advocating in this passage is the requiem for conduct. Whether you are an ordained priest in a religion or one called by God for Apostolic Purpose, you receive the Holy Spirit in accordance with His Love that you might TEACH the Essence of forgiveness. To forgive another you must BE of the Light of Peace. If you retain that which causes offense, you carry the weight of it that another might not bleed. Whatever you hold IN your hand has everything to do with WHAT’S at you side. So, I would suggest one think very carefully on his renewal before taking on the Gift of Forgiving Sins.

So where does this leave us? Well, for me, as a believer in God, and a believer in the Mysteries of God, I would say that my desire is to please that which is of God, and so I would have faith that this Mystery will be of such Spiritual Essence that it would render me in communion (in communicating through prayer, mediations, discernment, or any other gifting from God that might demonstrate this understanding) with God, and through this Mystery, I would be led to confess where confession is needed, and how it is needed. This is faith in the purist sense.

Let’s take this Mystery of Faith and apply it to my situation, the one where I am sometimes annoyed by family members. In communing with God, I would say, “I was annoyed by something a family member said.” God might ask, “And why were you annoyed?” I would respond, “Because this member saw a photo of some young girls on a community service trip to South America and made the comment that their shorts were very short, and that if this were a Christian community service trip, the girls would not be dressed in such short shorts.” God might ask, “Now why do you feel you need to confess being annoyed?”  I would reply, “I am annoyed with myself, really, for not bringing to her attention that you see us naked all of the time, and never once have you been annoyed with us. Or have you? ”

Seriously …  Adam and Eve were naked when they were in the Garden, and they were considered good.

 

 

 

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3 Comments
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  2. opheliart permalink

    Alfred,
    You make excellent points here. Another point which needs airing out is where we stand within our own stations. Who are we? What are we? What is our ID?
    Recently I checked in on a Christianity forum I had followed last year, and I noticed that it had continued its thread, into something like the sixth thread. The topic of the thread has to do with reform of a specific religious denomination. A few posts into this, and I did not read all of the posts, there was one post that read short but sweet. It said: Reform yourself.

    Short but sweet: Reform yourself.

    Theophan the Recluse once said … Descend the mind to the heart.
    I felt this profound until an Orthodox priest said to me … Practice hesychasm. Go back to the beginning.
    I did, but I did not go back to only these naval gazers; I went back to the beginning. Somewhere in this it came forth that a better, more profitable understanding of this reform has to do with renewal. The renewing of self to Self. And so, that descent becomes and ascent.

    Ascend with heart to mind.

    For, after all, Jesus did ascend.

    9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1. 9-11

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