Reflection: Confession and Forgiving Sins
by Father Don Thomas
1. Jesus said: Whose sins you shall forgive, they will be forgiven, and whose sins you shall retain (not forgive), they will be retained (not forgiven). Confessing sins is necessary, because how could the Apostles or anyone else know whether to forgive or retain unless someone mentions their sins. Just looking at another person gives no clue about forgiving or retaining. You cannot just look at another person and tell what the sins are. On the other hand, if a person confesses, the priest can make a judgment as to whether the person is sorry or not sorry and draw a conclusion as to whether the sins should be forgiven or retained. Making the judgment is called for: to forgive or not to forgive.
2. If one's salvation is between themselves and God (rejecting a middle-man), why do so many millions turn to their ministers for Baptism, Communion, and Marriage. Be consistent! Why don't they just pray to God directly if they want to be consistent?
3. If non-Catholics do not believe in a middle-man, but believe that their salvation is between themselves and God, why do ministers in church ask people like you and me to pray for a child who dies, who is kidnapped, for a family that is burned out, for protection from hurricanes, and other natural disasters — (even our neighbors ask us to pray for their mother who has cancer, and other needs) — what I am saying is that if they say that their salvation is between themselves and God, why are they asking "others" to pray for them?
That is a contradiction. Yet, they are doing the right thing.
4. How can someone who really believes in Jesus Christ honestly and sincerely say and believe that "no man can forgive sin — only God can" — when in the Protestant Bible and in the Catholic Bible on Easter Sunday, it says that Jesus had come back from the dead, and early in the morning he showed Himself to the Apostles (who were men) and He said: Whose sins you shall forgive, etc . Yes, there is another contradiction — even the ministers read this and yet they come out telling other people "that no man can forgive sins". We believe: can a man by his own power forgive sins? The answer is "No", but can man be used by God as an instrument to forgive sins, the answer is "Yes" — and this is clear in both Bibles, and it is clear from the ministry of nonCatholic ministers and people in the exercise of their faith. For example, every time a minister or non-Catholic baptizes under ordinary circumstances or in an emergency, sin is forgiven. Who forgives the sin? Only God, but He uses others as His instruments at that time.
Something to Think About
As a priest, and knowing how the church operates, I feel quite certain that if the pope, bishops or some priest made up Confession or i invented Confession, you can be sure that they would have excluded themselves from having to go to Confession. However, there is no double standard — the pope, the bishops and the priests have to go to another priest and show themselves to another priest just as the laity does. Sometimes it is hard to walk into the confessional, but what a wonderful feeling it is to walk out, knowing that God has forgivenus. Thank God for this great sacrament!
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