Reconciliation: Why Christians Must Share Their Sins
Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. –Galatians 6:2
In a world of rampant self promotion and the individualized pursuit of some vague enlightenment, the ethos of Christian community and accountability stands at odds, even among its own. We have forgotten that in becoming children of God, reborn via Baptism, adopted through the Son-ship of Christ, redeemed by his holy sacrifice, we united ourselves not with a private relationship with God, but with a family–the Church–with a shared hope in the destiny of heaven.
Of all the theology, of all the articles of faith, out of everything requisite in the Christian life, this was the most difficult for me to accept.
The truth is, we are not separate vessels traversing the sea of life toward the shores of heaven, but one ark–the Church.
…Remember the sufferings through which the Church has grown, and the storms the ship of Peter [the Church] has weathered because it has Christ on board. –St. Thomas Becket
Therefore nothing of our struggles or triumphs of faith are exclusive to our own experience, but a shared reality, all of which lends to the health, progress, or detriment of the Church. In this way all hands must be present for the work of salvation, which is why Jesus, who was given all authority in heaven, passed that authority to His apostles to forgive sins in the name of Jesus (Mt. 20: 21-23) via the Sacraments for the health, nourishment, and strengthening of God’s people.
For this reason, Christ gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because our sins are not subject to a selfish guilt as was demonstrated in the Garden when Adam and Eve hid from God. Instead, like a wound which festers in the dark, we must expose sin to the light of forgiveness and absolution. Reconciliation reunites us with God and Church with the priest acting as an “ambassador” (2 Corinthians 5:20) of Christ’s forgiving grace and his Body, the Church.
Only in bearing one another’s burdens, only in recognizing that our sins affect not only ourselves, but the Body of Christ, can the “pilgrim Church” thrive. Sin separates us from grace, and so inhibits our ability to operate effectively as constituent members of the Body. If Christ is the “True Vine,” then a branch infected with sin compromises the system. Reconciliation is the necessary restoration, that the wayward child might return to the table of Communion where Christ provides life–Himself in the Eucharist–where He abides in us, and We in Him (Jn 6: 52-56).
Remember above all that we are in this together, and only together–united and graced by Jesus–will we thrive in the work of the vineyard.
Are you struggling with sin, are you hiding from grace? I encourage you to seek the touch of Christ’s healing power in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Come home to the table of the Lord. Let us work for the union of our Lord’s prayer, that we all might be one, as He and the Father are one (Jn 17: 17-23).by