The well-known Parable of the Prodigal Son is perhaps the most strikingly powerful illustration of the human process of reconciliation, and of the theology inherent in the Rite of Reconciliation. But many of us find it difficult to believe the story (Luke 15:11-32). The father welcomes the son back instantly - doesn't even wait for him to get to the house. And he isnt' at all interested in the young man's confession, only in celebrating.
This is not the way we Catholics have viewed the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Most of us tend to view it with the attitude of the older son in the story: Forgiveness comes only after you recite your list of sins, agree to suffer a bit for them, do something to make up for your offenses, give some guarantee you won't commit the same sins again, and prove yourself worthy to join the rest of us who haven't been so foolish.
But God really is like the merciful parent in this parable: not out to catch us in our sin but intent on reaching out and hanging on to us in spite of our sin. Reconciliation is not just a matter of getting rid of sin. Nor is its dominant concern what we, the penitents, do. The important point is what God does in, with and through us.
Reconciliation is celebrated every Saturday from 4:00 - 4:30 at church or by appointment (925)283-0272.
Last Modified on December 13, 2008