Fifth Sunday of Lent
With John 17 and 2 Corinthians 5-6
• One time on a college choir trip, stayed at hotel, rooms with connecting doors. Cool! But each room had to open the door to have free access.
• We’ve been examining relationship, started with picture of unity, harmony, agreed-upon plan. Then deviation.
After sin we took a look at two different perspectives: the righteous one forgives (regardless of sinner’s actions) and, motivated by sorrow for sin, the sinner does a few things: stops & confesses, turns around (repents, aligns with Christ), and offers some kind of meaningful token or demonstration of sorrow (penance).
A Catholic prayer of confession and repentance:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
• So far the actions of the two parties are independent of the other…
Forgiveness offered freely without any strings attached (by power of HS), the forgiving party opens the door.
Sinner confesses and repents and offers fruit of repentance (by power of HS) without any expectation of forgiveness, opens door.
And now that both doors are open we can entertain absolution and reconciliation, which require the joint effort of both parties… there can be no absolution or reconciliation without forgiveness, and there can be no absolution or reconciliation without the sorrow of sin.
Where forgiveness says You don’t owe anything, and confession/repentance/penance say My sorrow over my sin wants to do something to cover my sin, Absolution is the joint effort that frees the sinner from guilt. It’s when the righteous says I accept your apology, I recognize your penance… don’t worry about it. I can see how your sorrow is motivating you to remain on our chosen path with me.
And once the relationship is freed from guilt and there is no barrier between the righteous and the sinner, those hotel doors are open and it’s party time! For real, think about the reconciliation party at the return of the Prodigal! Renewed relationship should be celebrated! Harmony and unity can flower again
• Two things to point out, that it is by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can truly forgive one another, and it is by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can confess and repent and offer penance and be reconciled, that’s the first thing to point out. The HS is the door opening to reconciliation.
(John 15:5 apart from me you can do nothing)
Second thing to point out is that the relationship after the reconciliation may be stronger than it was before the sin! When you break a bone and it heals it’s actually stronger than before because of the scar tissue. Not like a broken plate glued back together but new bone forms around the fragments like cement and concrete.
With people, relationships that have gone through difficulties are stronger than relationships that have not.
2 Corinthians 5
17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.
Thanks be to Jesus, whose prayer is that we would be one just as he and the Father are one, thanks be to Jesus that we can be reconciled to God who does not count our sins against us.
• There’s a door in front of you. Open it! (invitation to life in Christ)
• Hymn insert “Jesus, United By Thy Grace”