Monday, March 25, 2013

Yet another reason Catholics go to Reconciliation... that Jesus gave the authority to forgive sins to his church.

In John 20:23 we read Jesus telling the apostles “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Catholics believe that Jesus gave the apostles—and their successors through Holy Orders—the authority to forgive sins.

This isn’t unlike God at all. God’s perfectly capable of healing disease and physical disabilities but he chooses to allow doctors to do this for him. God’s perfectly capable of communicating full knowledge of himself to us but he chooses to reveal himself systematically over centuries and to have us teach each other about who he is. It’s rare in Scripture that God acts directly (like Sodom & Gomorrah) and more common for God to use a weak human like Moses.

God certainly can forgive sin without the sacrament if he chooses, if you’re sorry for your sins and the airplane you’re on is about to crash may be an example, but this isn’t the typical method. In the same way, Catholics believe God can recreate unbaptized martyrs and those who die while preparing for baptism. God is greater than that Sacrament. However, baptism is still the ordinary way of being reborn.

Jesus delegated the authority to forgive sins to the Church and while extreme circumstances may prompt God to act outside this arrangement it would probably be unwise to assume he will do so simply because we didn’t really want to get to Reconciliation.

That Jesus gave authority to forgive sins to the Church is yet another reason Catholics go to Reconciliation.

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