Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nourished by the Sacraments - Reconciliation

(as usual, pic credits here)

Living Stones Saturday Prayer Meet - Nourished by the Sacraments - Reconciliation

This Saturday's talk on Nourished by the Sacraments was delivered by Chris Aw and it was on Reconciliation.

Chris started off by asking us, What is the 'Stuff of Life'?
(ff John 9:6 - Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man)

He explained that the Sacraments relied on real stuff i.e. perceivable substance/real matter which is then made whole, holy and powerful by God in order to reach us (man).
Chris linked this to the incarnation of Christ (that He was God-made-man) and that Christ used real, everyday things in close contact to heal us.

The cry for healing has echoed throughout the Old and New Testament - Jeremiah Chapter 8 "looking for a physician and/or the balm of Gilead" and then in Luke 4:23 and Luke 5:31 "only the sick need healing"

Question: can you heal yourself when you are sick?
(Think about the story of the healed paralytic whose friends lowered him down to be healed by Jesus.)

Now, sin has a number of different dimensions:-
  • Self - it deforms the character - sowing the seeds of new evil habits
  • Neighbour - even sins committed in secret harms your neighbour as it changes the self's character and makes one more likely to interact with one's neighbour more sinfully
  • God - damages our relationship with God.
Sin = a refusal of God's love!

Coming now to the recognition of God as the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is also a relationship of Lover, Beloved and Love and Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.
therefore : Holy Spirit = Sanctifier = the one who makes us Holy
and as Healing = to be made whole. And this is what true Holiness is, to be whole.

At the point of Creation, Man was originally whole. After giving way to temptation from the Evil One, Man fell and now had a Wounded Nature, prone to Personal Sin. This led to Fractured Communion with God.
The question is : What can restore our Communion with God and Original Wholeness?

Answer: the outpoured blood of Christ
ff Ephesians 1:7 in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the richness of the grace)
Sin distorts our own image and likeness of God, alienating ourselves from our brothers and sisters and God.
In order to make us whole again, reconciliation with God and our sisters and brothers was made possible only through the supreme sacrifice of Christ - as all our sins are 'a cosmic injustice'

In summary:-
  1. it is easier to destroy than to build up
  2. it is also often pleasurable to watch other people tear each other apart -'a perverse pleasure'
  3. when trying to reconcile, we often need help from a 3rd party who will be a mirror to show what we've really done - else we'd still be trapped in our own way of seeing things.
  4. it is important to hear affirmation directly with a real human voice.
In this regard, the sacrament of Reconciliation addresses the Whole Person - spiritually, emotionally and sensually : body, mind, soul and spirit.
We all need to know we are totally forgiven from the depths of our being through Jesus' blood.
To know, hear and experience forgiveness is to overcome Fear, Shame and Guilt.
ref Jude 1:24-25


A Sacrament = Outward Expression of Inward Grace.
Reconciliation is easily one of the most misunderstood of all the Sacraments - it seems to be something we do only once in a while, over Easter or Advent and we often wonder what to say to the Priest in the Confessional.
Is he going to think any less of us after what we've done? Or is God going to love us any less?

Let's move away from thinking along the lines of guilt and punishment in the Confessional and view it instead as tapping into a spring of grace where we can wash ourselves clean of our sins and start again, with hope in our hearts.
In the end, that is what Reconciliation is really all about , reconciling ourselves with God, the Church, our brothers and sisters - and an opportunity to learn too where we have messed up and to take small steps in the right direction.

Courage to those who have abandoned this for a long time - God loves you and longs Himself to make you whole again, so come to Him and pour out your broken heart that He may refresh you.

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