Homily – 1st Sunday of Lent C Feb. 25, 2007 (My Annual “Get Back to Confession Homily”)

Homily – 1st Sunday of Lent C February 25, 2007

The Temptation of Christ by Ary Scheffer 1854

If you are the Son of God . . . .

With those spite-filled words, Satan commences his testing of Our Lord Jesus in the desert.

If you are the Son of God.

You will recall that just before going into the desert, Jesus had been Baptized in the Jordan. And there at His Baptism, Heaven was opened, and God the Father’s voice was heard saying “You are my beloved Son.” — You are the Son of God.

From the moment Satan heard those words, he said “We’ll see about that.”

To give the devil his due, Satan had every reason to be confident of winning going into that showdown with Jesus in the desert. Up to this point, Satan had been batting 1000 against God’s children, almost from the beginning.

When God first created man, male and female, in His own image and likeness, God looked down on Adam and Eve and said to them, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter.”

But after they had tasted, and swallowed, the forbidden fruit, the Devil had every right to say to them “No, you are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter.” This is why in today’s Gospel, when he shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, the devil says “all this power and glory . . . .has been handed over to me.”

Who handed the world with all its power and glory over to Satan? Not God. We handed it over to him. When we sin, my brothers and sisters, we take the power and glory God has given us as His beloved sons and daughters, and we hand it over to the devil to give it to whomever he wishes.

If you are the Son of God.

Yes, Satan is most confident going into that desert, that Christ will also hand his birthright over to him.

But he’s wrong. Satan loses.

This is no old Adam, no son of God, small s. This is the New Adam, The Son of God, capital S. God Incarnate.

This Jesus is the Serpent crusher, who has come to reconcile all the fallen children of Adam and Eve to their true and only Father, Almighty God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ!!! This Saturday,
March 3rd, here in this Church, we will have for the 4th year in a row, All Day Confessions from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.

Come to confession that day and you will hear Jesus say to you loud and clear “You are a Son of God!”

How often it is these days that we hear the devil lie to us that we’re not God’s children. He says to us “If you were really a son of God, you wouldn’t be so fearful;” “If you were really a daughter of God, you wouldn’t be so uncharitable;” “If you were a child of God, you would have never done that!”

“No,” the devil says to us, “you are not a child of God, you are, and you will always be, my beloved child.”

The problem with the devil is that he’s such a liar. A liar and the father of lies, Jesus calls him. For every baptized believer in Christ who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and abides in the shadow of His Mercy is and will always be a child of God.

And in the confessional, Jesus the Truth Incarnate says to us unconditionally “You are a Son of God. Go in Peace, your sins are forgiven!!”

This coming Saturday is a great opportunity for all of us, for you, to receive that affirmation of Jesus. For eight straight hours, two to four priests will hear individual confessions, in the two confessionals in back of you (turn around and see them?) and also in confessionals that’ll be set up through this sacristy door and through this door behind me.

Every confessional will have screens if you wish to confess anonymously, and chairs if you’d rather go face to face. Where you are to wait will be clearly marked for each of the four confessionals. Soothing music will be playing in the background all day.

And the name of the priest currently hearing confessions will be on each confessional. The names are in this weeks bulletin. All these priests are very gentle in hearing confessions. We priests all realize that it might be a long time since you’ve been and we’re all going to be patient and help you if you need it (We’ve got 8 hours!) After saying Mass, there’s nothing we priests like doing better than reconciling people to Jesus after all those years away.

Also in this week’s bulletin is this yellow insert which on one side has “Two Real Experiences:” (text of yellow insert follows)

After several years of not going to confession, I decided to attend the All-Day Confessions at St. Joseph’s Parish. When I entered the church I started to get nervous, so I prayed to God for strength. As I sat in line, I took a deep breath and said to myself, “I can do this”. When I went into the confessional, the priest was so helpful and understanding. He made it so easy! I could not believe I stayed away so long. If anyone is having any doubts about going to confession, just pray to God for strength.

a parishioner

I grew up in an agnostic home. My family said they believed in God and Jesus but practiced no particular faith. I ended up on the wrong path and fell into terrible worldliness and sin. By God’s grace, ten years ago I found what I really needed in the Catholic Church. Its sacraments feed me tenderly. In the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus is made visible in a way that can not be known by just saying “Sorry God” alone in my room. I can’t say I always find going to Confession fun but I’m drawn to it. I think the sacraments are His way of expressing how much He wants to touch us. To me, He uses his priests to show us how visible He wants to become to us.

In the confessional, I think He wants us to hear His voice. Sometimes I hear a condemning voice in my mind and soul accusing me of my past sins but I find the power that stops this voice in the words, “I absolve you of all of your sins.” To me, God’s authority is speaking, not the priest. I am willing to overcome all the obstacles within me to hear those words. It’s His voice that His sheep know.

a parishioner’s friend

And on the back of the yellow insert there’s the basic information of what/when/where. So go over that friend or relative of your’s house, say “Oh, I brought you this flyer about confessions next Saturday,” leave it on their kitchen table, run out the door, and let God do the rest!

Finally, as always we have stapled to the yellow flyer the excellent “Guide to Confession” put out by the Knights of Columbus that contains everything you need to make a good confession: An Act of Contrition, an easy to follow, step by step “How to go to Confession”, and an examination of conscience listing common sins committed against God, neighbor or the Church. You can take this into the confessional with you. And even if you still freeze up, don’t worry the priest will walk you through it.

I have been praying for you for the past month; 20 other people have been praying and sacrificing daily especially for you, two orders of cloistered nuns have also been praying for you over the past month.

And so, my dear brother in Christ who has been away from confession for so many years, You are a Son of God. My sister in Christ who’s been away from this Sacrament of Peace for too long now, You are a Daughter of God.

Be reminded and affirmed of the great reality of who you are, by taking just 10-20 minutes out of 8 hours of your day this coming Saturday to be reconciled to your true Father, who has been waiting so long for you to return to Him, that He might fill you with His power and His peace.

2 Responses to “Homily – 1st Sunday of Lent C Feb. 25, 2007 (My Annual “Get Back to Confession Homily”)”

  1. jun nograles says:

    yo’ve a nice homily.

  2. Roger Fisette says:

    Father Woolley,
    Certainly great to read about the success of the all day of confessions.
    Many thanks to your efforts and workers who have helped with this. Also all the priest goodness of spending hours there.
    Kneeling before the well lighted Blessed Sacrament certainly has brought people to reflect about themselves and feel free to walk to the priest. It has for me.
    Seeing a teenager sitting waiting for his turn was great. I hope many more teenagers have taken advantage also.
    This I believe should be done in every city of the diocese. A move to help bring back the fallen away.