Have you ever heard of the “call out culture”?
This is something happening more and more today.
It is when you do something someone else is offended by,
so that other person goes on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram,
or some other website, and “calls you out.”
Here’s an example. Just the other day, a young guy down in Mississippi
went out hunting for wild turkey. He bagged an unusual white one.
The local newspaper did a story.
Somehow, Keith Olbermann,
who you may know from MSNBC and ESPN,
saw the story, and thought this was terrible.
So then he posted something on Twitter saying this guy was horrible,
Gave the man’s name, and said, I quote,
“make sure the rest of his life is a living hell.”
That’s “calling someone out.”
Guess what happened next?
Lots of other people thought that was terrible,
so then more people started denouncing and “calling out” Olbermann.
That’s what the Pharisees were doing, and it’s the same mindset.
No mercy, no forgiveness – the offender must be driven out.
And if Jesus doesn’t agree with them, he’ll get the same treatment.
And by the way, Mr. Olbermann did apologize, to his credit.
Here’s the missing piece, which Jesus supplies:
Repentance. Conversion. Redemption.
Sometimes people will try to twist this story
into saying that Jesus didn’t care about the sin;
that that was the Pharisees’ preoccupation.
On the contrary: Jesus cares very much about sin.
He knows full well how destructive sin is.
The key difference between Jesus and the Pharisees
is that they disagree on the remedy.
Jesus’ remedy is conversion.
“Repent,” he said, “for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
“The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me,”
he announced in his home town,
“to proclaim liberty” and a “year acceptable to the Lord.”
“Conversion.” Turning around; reorienting our life.
It’s not a surface thing – it goes to the core.
Notice in the first reading: God is not interested in looking back
at the failures of his people.
In previous chapters of Isaiah, God hit them hard,
telling them all the ways they had gone wrong.
But not to destroy them,
but to wake them up and get them on the right road.
To those people, he said,
Look at the way I’m creating for you!
Look at the rivers of water I’m giving you!
And to the woman in the Gospel he said:
Go free of condemnation; go and sin no more.
I’m going to keep inviting you to come to confession.
I need it; I wanted to go this past week, but I didn’t get there.
Pray for me that I can get there this coming week,
While I keep praying for you to seek out this grace as well.
If you look in the bulletin, you’ll see:
Wednesday evening from 5:45 pm to 6:10.
Thursday, 3 to 4 pm and again from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
Saturday from 9 to 10 am and 3:30 to 4:45 pm.
Nearby parishes have lots of times, too,
and some have penance services.
Here at St. Remy, during Holy Week, we will have confessions
on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday,
and you are welcome; but be warned,
it may be like Wal-Mart the day before Christmas!
Maybe don’t wait till the last minute.
If you are thinking, Gosh, it’s been so long, I’ve forgotten how!
First of all, the priest will help you.
Second, the main thing is to examine yourself.
In the pews, in the blue binders that look like this,
In the back of the binder, is a booklet that looks like this.
Look in the back, you’ll see everything you need.
Especially look at the examination of conscience.
It’s all laid out there in plain language.
Maybe you’re thinking, it’s just too awkward, I’m too embarrassed.
Let me tell you about the best confession I ever made in my life.
It was Lent of 1991. Ten years before I had left the Catholic Church.
That’s a long story I’ll save for another time.
But for ten years I was wrestling with what I believed,
And inch by inch, God brought me back, closer and closer,
Till one day, I was driving past a Catholic Church,
and I remember hearing a voice speak in my heart, and it was Jesus, and he asked:
“What holds you back?”
All those years, I’d had a mental “list” of questions and issues.
But in that instant, I answered the Lord, “Nothing.”
About two days later, I walked into that Catholic Church,
I got in line like everyone else, and I began my confession,
“Bless me father, for I have sinned.
It has been ten years since my last confession.”
I told the priest I’d left the Church, been baptized in another church,
rejected teachings of the Church; and that I’d missed Mass.
I recounted my sins against each of the Ten Commandments
just as I’d been taught long before.
You know how long it took? Probably five minutes or so.
Then I said,“for these and all my sins which I cannot remember,
I ask pardon of God and penance of you Father.”
Let me tell you, if I as a priest heard a confession like that,
I think I’d probably cry with joy!
That priest who heard my confession – whose name I do not know –
Spoke a few words, which I cannot recall.
But he gave me absolution!
And the next Sunday,
I received the Holy Eucharist for the first time in ten years.
Yes, it really is just that easy.
(Here I made the point that what was really important was that I kept going to confession. Once every ten years wasn't my point! And I said that, had I not kept going to confession, month after month, I would not be a priest, and probably wouldn't be a Catholic today. I talked about the pill I take every day -- I may not feel any different, but it helps, and it wouldn't work if I didn't take it regularly.)
God forgets what lies behind; he urges us to strain forward
for the prize, which is Jesus Christ himself!
What holds you back?