One day at Mass, I had an occasion to correct my son. Before I said a word, I could see the remorse on his face, and was moved from disgruntled to compassion. I drew him into an embrace. I held him close to me, and told him that I loved him, and he needed to correct his behavior. He sheepishly asked me what he had done. I assured him that he could figure that part out. I felt good about it. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t feel weighed down about it. It felt positive, constructive and effective. It felt like he was left with his dignity and autonomy. It made me think of Confession, and of St. Peter.
When I go to confession, it too is in loving embrace. I take inventory, and come to God with my short comings. I admit things about myself that I may be able to hide from the world, but God already knows. When I leave confession, I feel happy, reinstated in grace, forgiven and not just with an empty slate, but a clean one without residue. I am told you are not only forgiven, but loved and not starting over, but starting anew, like Peter.
Jesus knew Peter’s remorse for denying Him. Our Lord’s encounter with him, on the shore, after the resurrection, was all of this. He knew Peter’s heart. His words were love, forgiveness and empowerment. “Do you love Me?” are words of healing. When Peter experienced his own answer, what perspective must have flooded Him. Jesus knew Peter loved him, hence it must have been Peter’s vision, that was muddled. Jesus provided clarity. I believe “Feed My sheep” were words of total forgiveness, but not only that, they were a reinstatement. To Peter’s ears, our beautiful Jesus said to him again. “Peter you are rock, and upon this rock I will build My Church.” It makes me think of my favorite line from from “Dr Who”, “Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me, would make a difference?”. Jesus said to him this doesn’t change that I’m entrusting you with what is Mine, what is precious. Peter, you are still “rock” to Me. Just like Peter, when I’m leaving the confessional, I don’t only feel forgiven, but restored to who God calls me to be.
I will try to respond to my son more like this. That’s not to say a mother’s look and tone of voice aren’t effective tools, but my hope is to correct with a gentle spirit, I want my son to feel love, forgiveness and restoration. I want my son to know that his mistakes don’t change who he is to me. I want him to experience from me the forgiveness I get in Confession.