Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Proper Apology

Homily from the 3rd Sunday of Easter - Year B

One of my favorite places to eat is Jimmy Johns.  First of all, they have fantastic tasting subs.

Secondly, their service is incredibly fast.  Most of the time, you can literally walk out of there with your sub in less than 60 seconds.  

But I also love Jimmy Johns because their stores are decorated with really funny signage.
One sign reads:  “Not every day is a sunny day.  Some days you’re the pigeon.  Some days your the statue.”

Another says: “I intend to live forever.  So far, so good.”

And one other says: “Let it be known - the baggier the pants, the more resentful the kid.  Whatever you do, never force your children to eat food they dislike.  They’ll show their resentment by wearing really baggy pants.  So be good parents.  Love your children.  Listen to them.  But most important, feed them Jimmy John’s as often as possible.  That way, their pants will always fit nice and tight.”
However, one of the best signs I’ve seen at Jimmy Johns wasn’t humorous at all.
In fact, it was quite sincere and very practical.  It said, “Proper Apologies Have Three Parts: What I did was wrong. I feel badly that I hurt you.  How can I make this better?”

I read that and I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I just read the best explanation for repentance in a sub shop!”

Our readings this weekend focus on repentance.  In the first reading, Peter is the head of the fledgling Church and he is calling those who killed Jesus to repentance.  “Repent, therefore,” Peter says, “and be converted that your sins may be wiped away.”  In the second reading, St. John, reminds us that Jesus is “expiation for our sins.”  And “the way we may be sure we know him is to keep his commandments.”  And in the Gospel, Jesus tells us one of his commandments: that the disciples should preach “repentance, for the forgiveness of sins.”

Do you notice how repentance and forgiveness always go together?  A lot of times, we want to separate repentance from forgiveness.  We expect God to forgive us because we know He is the God of mercy.  But often we forget of our need to repent, forgetting that He is also the God of justice.

All of you who have little children know what I’m talking about.  They get into trouble, and their very quick to say, “I’m sorry!” because they want forgiveness.  However, when you tell them there will be consequences like a grounding, they think you’re being unjust.  “But, I said ‘I’m sorry.’” they cry, like that’s the only part of a proper apology.  And then you say, “Yes, thank you for your apology.  And now, you have to make this better.”

God deserves a proper apology from us for our sins.  Because when we sin, what we do is wrong.  They offend God.  And we should want to make it better.

We do that, and of course we’ll have God’s forgiveness.  Because Jesus promises it.  And, unlike us, he never separates repentance and forgiveness.

The Act of Contrition, the prayer we say at the conclusion of our confession, has all three parts of a proper apology.

  • Part one: “What I did was wrong.”  “Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment.”
  • Part two: “I feel badly that I hurt you.”  “But most of all, because they offend you, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love.”
  • Part three: “How can I make this better?”  “I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.  Amen.”

Most people I know use the 10 commandments to examine their conscience before going to confession.  It really is perfect for preparing to make repentance to God.  However, something else we should consider as we examine our conscience are the five precepts of the Church.  They are meant to guarantee to us the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer, the sacramental life, more commitment and growth in love of God and neighbor.
In other words, what’s the basic minimum we as Catholics should be doing in our life in the Church?

They are:
1.)  To attend Mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation and to refrain from work and activities which could impede the sanctification of those days.
2.)  To confession one’s sins, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once each year.

3.)  To receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.  
4.)  To abstain from eating meat and to observe the days of fasting established by the Church.

5.)  To help provide for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.
Every Lent we really emphasize numbers 2 and 4; going to confession and abstaining from meat and fasting.  Now, perhaps you missed the opportunity to go to confession this past Lent.  But notice, the precept doesn’t say we have to go to confession at least once each year during Lent.  It’s not like you missed your only chance.  It says we’re obligated to go to confession at least once a year.
So, I want to invite you to fulfill the second precept of the Church.  If you haven’t been to confession in the past year, now is the time to come back.  We hear confessions every Wednesday at 4:30, every Saturday at 8:30 and by appointment.  Come, take the opportunity to make a proper apology to God.  Both He and you deserve it.

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