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He came for the sinners...

How often do we think that Jesus couldn't possibly love us? That we're too far gone? That we are just too bad for him to care about us? Guess again! He is here for us. The sinners! And, we are all sinners. There is no one without sin on this earth. It goes all the way back to the garden of Eden. The first man and woman sinned. Big time! But being the loving God that he is, he had a plan. Jesus. Jesus came for the sinners. He came to make us whole again. He came to make us worthy of the kingdom of Heaven. There is nothing that we can do to make us worthy, it is his mercy and love that will get us there. Yet, so often, we shy away from a relationship with him. Why? I guess it depends on the person. Some avoid Jesus out of shame. Others out of guilt. There is no need. He is closest to us when we are at our weakest. It is our weakness and sinfulness that draws Jesus near.

I'm going to confession today for the first time in (technically) 15 years. But, its actually been 32 years since I've really thought about my sins... I went to Catholic school until the 8th grade and we received the sacrament of reconciliation as a part of our school experience. We then had regular times with the priest during school services to confess our sins. Sins like, "I yelled at my sister." Or the ever popular, "I disobeyed my mom." But we never really had a lot to confess. We were kids! Then, I left the church. (If you stick with me long enough, you'll hear about how I left the Catholic church after 8th grade only to return in the past three years. But more on that later.)

While I left the church after 8th grade, my mother and sister stayed with the church and were very close to their priest. About 15 years ago when my mom was dying from cancer, that beloved priest traveled to my sister's home to be with my mother in her last days. He offered everyone in the family confession. Now, I had left the church but this man was a very close friend of my mother's and sister's. He offered confession to us one by one, face to face in my sister's guest bedroom. I was not about to look this man in the eye and tell him all of the horrible things I'd done since leaving the church 17 years before. So, I only gave a partial confession. I held back the really bad stuff. Today, I will not hold back. The poor priest I'm going to today will hear every detail of every shameful indiscretion I've committed since 8th grade.

I've been thinking on today's confession and praying about it for months. I've examined my conscience and I've read the Pocket Guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (thank you, Fr. Josh Johnson & Fr. Mike Schmitz for this wonderful book!) I've prayed and made a written list of everything I could remember. And I'm excited! I can't wait! I want a personal relationship with Jesus. I look at my sins as things I've done that have hurt this relationship and confession is me going to Jesus and owning up to what I've done and saying, "I'm sorry. I will do better." He knows what I've done and he knows I'm sorry. He knows everything there is to know about me. He knows me better than I know myself. But I need to go to him and address it with him personally. Think about it; if you wronged a friend and didn't go to them and say, "I messed up. I'm sorry. I'll do better." What kind of friend would you be? How would that relationship be affected? I can't imagine it would be as strong as it was before. But confessing what you did and then truly repenting and trying to do better would make that relationship stronger. I'm thankful that Jesus gave his church the ability to hear confessions so that I may strengthen my relationship with him and his father.

There is no need for guilt or shame. He already knows what I've done and he still loves me. He came for me. He came for us all. He came for the sinners! And he loves us more than we could ever imagine.


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