What Is Love?

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48

Psalm 98:1-4

1 John 4:7-10

John 15:9-17

When preparing to preach at Mass, in my experience, it is very easy to just skim over the 1st and 2nd readings and even the Responsorial Psalm in order to see what the Gospel message is for the week. Very often the Gospel passages proclaimed at Mass have the “meat” of Jesus’ teachings that can really change our lives when we apply them and live them out. Today’s Gospel from John is no different. It’s message is clear and to the point. Jesus tells us, “Love one another as I love you.”

But in order to better understand this “love” that Jesus is talking about, we really need to go back to the 2nd reading today from the first Letter of Saint John. It would be a shame if we just skimmed over it because I believe it is one of the most beautiful passages in the New Testament. It reads almost like a love poem. It is only 4 lines long, but profoundly powerful. So allow me to read it to you again:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-10).

 So next time you tell someone that you “love” him or her… I want you to think of this passage. Because all you ever wanted to or needed to know about love, is explained in these 4 verses. Therefore, you really have to understand this passage so that you are sure that you actually mean what you say when using the word “love.”

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.” Love comes from one source… God. It’s not a man made emotion. It originates from God who is love. Therefore if you truly have love inside of you, then you have God inside of you as well. Even an atheist, one who doesn’t believe in God, in some way, knows God simply by loving others.

“Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” Therefore if God is love, it would make sense that someone who has absolutely no love for anyone can NOT possibly know God. I would take this even farther and say that love and hate can’t reside in the same person at the same time because of how opposite they are. You can’t on one hand tell your child, a friend or your soul mate that you “love” them but on the other hand hold a grudge or hate against someone else. One expresses the presence of God. The other expresses the absence of God. The two don’t mesh.

“In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.” Here, God reveals to us what is love. God didn’t reveal love through His speech, but through His actions. God decided to show us what love looked like by sending us His Son. To live for us. To die for us. To save us. I personally couldn’t imagine standing by watching one of my children suffer a horrendous death. Even if it was for the greater good, I don’t think I would have it in me to keep going. But that’s exactly what God did. He allowed His Son to suffer out of love for us.

“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” Love is not in the receiving, it is in the giving. Love wasn’t “created” by us out of thanksgiving towards God… Love was “born” from God when He extended it to us through His Son. This sacrifice is the height… the pinnacle of true Love.

So now you are all experts on “love,” right?? Understanding love is the easy part. But it takes a lifetime to properly put it into motion and probably won’t be perfected until you reach heaven. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try while we’re down here living in the world.

So here’s my challenge to all of you…your homework for the week. Be more aware of the level of love you are expressing towards others in your daily lives.

Meaning… if you have high levels of negativity, anger, gossip, holding tighter to those grudges, eye rolls, having to argue everything, cursing or sin in general… your love is out of balance. It means you are distancing yourself from God instead of walking towards Him.

When these things creep up, because it will happen from time to time, you need techniques to counteract them. Simply recognizing this when it’s happening is a great first step. Then try some deep breathing, meditation, prayer, read some Scripture or take a walk. Just putting a smile on your face will do wonders. And here’s the big one…go to confession. This sacrament can give you more grace and love then you’ll probably ever truly realize. It’s that important… so no more excuses! Go!!

The only way to return to love is to return to God. So when your love is low, turn to God. For He is the source of all Love. The source of all Joy.


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 21, 2017)

Acts 8:5-8,14-17

Psalm 66:1-3,4-5,6-7,16,20

1 Peter 3:15-18

John 14:15-21

Actions speak louder than words. How many times have we heard this phrase before? It is an absolute truth in my opinion. If you say one thing, but your actions prove otherwise, you are living a lie. It’s that simple.

Another word that comes to mind is “integrity.” My definition of integrity is: doing the right thing, even when no body else is around to see it. For example, if you are at Walmart and see a man unknowingly drop his wallet in the parking lot… and you pick the wallet up but keep it for yourself because no one else saw it… you lack integrity.

This is one of the basic Christian teachings that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel from John. “Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you say you are a Christian, you should do the things I tell you to do.” Actions speak louder than words.

Being a Christian can be a struggle… I get it. Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you. Some of the teachings from Jesus are… let’s just call them, “challenging.” Why? Because many of our Christian beliefs go against the grain of the world. But that doesn’t make them impossible to follow or at least try.

Jesus himself knew that we would struggle in this area after he ascended to Heaven. That is the very reason he promised to give us an Advocate to be with us always. This Advocate is the third person of the Trinity, better known as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is who guides us and strengthens us in our day-to-day lives. He’s the one who we should be relying on to help us when we have to choose between doing right or doing wrong in any given situation. And the more we choose to do right, the more He will strengthen us.

Just like an athlete training for the Olympics. If they train and eat right faithfully, they’ll perform at their best come game time. But if they cheat on their training regiment and on their diet over and over again, they will fail miserably when it really counts.

So too with us. If we consistently live out our faith in word and action, those ethical and moral challenges we will face later won’t see some overwhelming. But if we continue to choose poorly in little things, we’ll fail miserably when we are really challenged.

Hopefully I haven’t scared you by now. I’m sure there’s at least one person out there saying, “Yup, I fail daily with little things. My integrity stinks. I’m doomed.” Well chin up buttercup! Go to confession and get a fresh start. That’s the great thing about our faith. We serve a merciful God who LOVES giving us a fresh start because He is overflowing with his divine mercy. We just have to ask for forgiveness and try again. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Love God. Learn your faith. Live out that faith. Ask the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance. It’s really that straightforward. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father.” So please, let us all show Jesus how much we love Him by learning and living out our faith more and more each day.

Put Down Your Smart Phone

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 17, 2016)

Genesis 18:1-10a

Psalm 15:2-5

Colossians 1:24-28

Luke 10:38-42

I recently heard on the radio that, on average, people touch their phone between 2,000-3,000 times per day. Adults between the ages of 35-49 watch on average 33 hours of television each week. One article I found claimed that children average 13 hours of video games each week. My point? We live in a very busy world filled with distractions. In the above statements, I didn’t even mention the hours people spend each week at work or at school.

As I am getting older I’m learning that time is precious. We can waste money, but earn it back. We can waste food, but make more. But time wasted can’t be recovered. There is no “do over” when it comes to “yesterday.” We can try to make tomorrow better, but yesterday is spent. So we have to always be conscious of how we are spending our time.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we need to balance the busyness of our lives and spending time with God. And quite often, we have it backwards. The story of Martha and Mary is very relevant to us today. Martha and Mary are sisters who had Jesus over to their house for a visit. During the visit, Martha was running around the house trying to make sure it was clean and everyone had enough food and drinks. Most would claim that she was being a good hostess. Meanwhile, her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, hanging on His every word. Martha got irritated because Mary was not helping her and voiced her frustration. Jesus replies to her as follows (allow me to modernize it here), “Martha, put down your iPhone, turn off the television, walk away from the xbox controller, stop worrying about when the next soccer practice is and we have plenty of food…. I need you to take a breath, sit down and spend some time with me.” And in this case, who is “me?” None other… then the Son of God.

Now, the devil wants nothing better than for us to get so busy and distracted with worldly things, that we put God on the back burner. Smart phones, movies, video games, sports and so forth can be good things… but we need to be careful to not put these things before God.

I, like most of you, have a very busy life. I work a full time job, my wife Angie and I have 5 kids (4 of which will be playing soccer this fall), I coach and referee soccer, work with the youth group and I’m obviously a Deacon which entails a lot of behind the scenes things here at church. So I feel very fortunate that I was able to take time out of my schedule to be a chaperone, along with my wife, at the Ignite Your Torch youth retreat in Louisville last weekend. I got to “escape from the world” and surround myself with God for four days.

My wife and I along with our youth group members who attended Ignite Your Torch 2016

My wife and I along with our youth group members who attended Ignite Your Torch 2016

It. Was. Incredible. I can testify first hand that the future of our church is in good hands with our youth. These high school kids had their faith strengthened in ways that brought me to tears on more than one occasion at the retreat. The youth got to attend workshops, listen to speakers, attend daily Mass, participate in Eucharistic Adoration and interact with priests, sisters and other religious from over 15 different orders. Not to mention we saw a dodge ball game between priests and seminarians, watch a break dancing-beat boxing priest, watch nuns from Nigeria do traditional dance from their county and many, many other things you just don’t see everyday.

The guy in the middle of the circle dressed in black... yup, a break dancing priest!

The guy in the middle of the circle dressed in black… yup, a break dancing priest!

The single most moving experience for me was during Eucharistic Adoration at the school gymnasium. All of the kids kneeled down in prayer as one priest came around and gave an individual blessing with our Eucharistic Lord in the monstrance over each kid. A band was playing Christian music in the background and priests were scattered throughout the gym to hear confessions. What moved me the most was that I looked around the gym and noticed the confession lines were full. And when the kids came back from confession, they would kneel back down and wait as the monstrance was processed around to them. When it was their turn, they would then gaze up at our Eucharistic Lord from their knees and receive a blessing. Many of them were moved to tears from this encounter.

A high school student receiving a blessing

A high school student receiving a blessing

The beauty of it all was that there were no cell phones, no TV, no video games, no pressure from sports and no school…. Just time with Jesus Christ. If you ever have the opportunity to go on a spiritual retreat, please do it. It has the potential to change your life.

In reality, many of us don’t have the ability to go on a retreat or at least not that often. So I wanted to leave you with three simple things you can do to strengthen your faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ. However, there’s one caveat. All three things will require you to put down your phone, turn off the TV, unplug the video game, and step away from the busyness of the world… at least temporarily.

  1. Go to confession. Frequent confession will bring you more grace and allow you to feel God’s love in super abundance.
  2. Read the Gospels. These four books are first hand accounts of the life and teaching’s of Jesus Christ. Listen to His words and act on them.
  3. Receive the Eucharist as often as possible. Allow Him to be the food that satisfies your body and soul.

We are all meant for great things. But we can’t reach our spiritual potential if we keep putting other things before God. So, use your time wisely and don’t be afraid to step away from the world from time to time and focus on the only one that can give you lasting peace…. Jesus Christ.

God Feeds Us

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 26, 2015)

2 Kings 4:42-44

Psalm 145:10-11,15-16,17-18

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 6:1-15

Today’s first reading, the Psalm and the Gospel from John all have the same theme: We are hungry…God feeds us. Obviously this can be referencing actual food, but it can also speak to our spiritual hunger that only God can satisfy. With that theme in mind, I want to tell you about a youth retreat I attended with some of the high school students from St. Andrew’s and St. William’s a few weeks ago at St. Catharine’s College in Springfield, KY called Ignite Your Torch. It was a four-day event and was attended by over 300 high school youth and between 20-30 priests and religious all wearing clerics or full habits. And before you picture a bunch of boring old men or mean nuns carrying rulers right out of the 1950’s, realize that most of the priests and sisters were young. Let me tell you…you haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed cassock and habit wearing priests take on high school boys in a game of dodge ball. It was epic!

Many of the priests, religious and some laity gave various Catholic related talks of which the students were allowed to pick and choose which one they wanted to hear. There were over 30 different talks to choose from throughout the conference. One of the talks I attended was by Sr. Maria Francesca, a very young Dominican sister. Her talk was called, “Souls on Fire.” She discussed how the Holy Spirit works in our lives and did it with such love and enthusiasm that I could have listened to her all day long. I also listened to Br. Matthias, a Carmelite with a big ‘ol beard, give a talk called, “Prayer that ROCKS your world.” He told us about St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer life and also explained the significance of wearing the Brown Scapular (my personal favorite devotion as you may remember from my last homily). Br. Matthias said that every time we kiss Mary’s Brown Scapular, it was like we were kissing Mary’s face. How beautiful! Fr. Benedict, another Dominican, gave a talk explaining how to withdraw from the distractions of the world and enter into the sacred shrine of the soul to be alone with God. It was high quality Catholic teaching presented in a way that engaged teenagers. I know from experience that this is not an easy task! The retreat was intensely faith filled and truly rekindled the fire of my faith. I can only imagine the impact it will have shaping the young faith of the students that attended.

There were a few very specific events that occurred during Ignite Your Torch that touched my faith on a very deep level. I wanted to share with you one that happened Friday night during Eucharistic adoration. Traditionally, Eucharistic adoration consists of having the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar in a monstrance while people sit or kneel in silent prayer. This is how we do it at St. Andrew’s every Wednesday in our day chapel. The adoration at Ignite was very different. Instead of leaving the Eucharist on the altar, Fr. Tony (a Fathers of Mercy priest) walked around to each of the 300+ people kneeling and, one by one, blessed them with the Eucharist. It was intense to kneel down before our Lord in the Eucharist, look up and receive His blessing. For that brief moment in time, it was a very personal, intimate moment with our Lord.

Because there were so many people, it took awhile to get to everyone so people had the opportunity to go to confession or pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy while waiting. I didn’t go to confession in the beginning because the lines were filling up and I wanted to allow time for the kids to go. So during this time of waiting I did my normal prayers, I asked God to help me with a few issues and also to keep watch over some people I knew who were struggling in their lives. However, I had a deep sense of stirring in my soul that I couldn’t figure out. So I just kneeled and waited all the while wrestling with an uneasiness that I couldn’t pinpoint. It was then that Fr. Tony stood in front of me holding our Eucharistic Lord. I lifted my eyes upwards and gazed at the Eucharist as I received Christ’s blessing. It took all of a few seconds and then Fr. Tony moved on to the next person.

During the blessing I was fine. But as soon as it was over I couldn’t move and I couldn’t speak. It seemed like forever but probably didn’t last more then 10 seconds. On the outside, I experienced a type of paralysis but on the inside, I experienced pure joy and love. It was as if I was one with the Trinity. As Fr. Benedict explained in his talk earlier, I was able to enter the sacred shrine of my soul to be alone with God. Shortly after, I bent forward and started weeping. I wept because as soon as I experienced that intense love from God, He helped me see clear as day where I have not shown that kind of love to others. Specifically, God pointed out to me a sin that I’ve been clinging onto for a long time now. That was the stirring in my soul that I couldn’t figure out earlier. I continued to pray and cry in thanksgiving to God. I then pulled out my brown scapular and, as Br. Matthias described so beautifully, kiss the face of Mary. That 15-20 minute window was one of the most emotionally intense moments I’ve ever experienced while praying.

As the night was winding down, I knew I had to go to confession. I mean, when God clearly points out your sin, you better pay attention and act immediately! But I knew if I didn’t go to confession right then, I’d make up an excuse and not get around to it for a while. So I looked around and saw a priest in the corner of the room with a smile on his face and nobody in line. I approached him…sat down…and began, ”Forgive me father for I have sinned.” That night, I was able to go to confession and rid my soul of a sin that was eating at me for years.

Remember the theme from today’s reading? My soul hungered for healing…God fed me.

You know, it’s easy to hear today’s Gospel reading about the multiplication of loaves and say, “Yup, that’s a pretty cool miracle. Jesus sure fed a lot of people.” But what we need to do it really mediate on it’s meaning.

We are sinners. We ache for love. We have a void in our souls. If we turn that over to God in faithful prayer, God can heal us. God will love us. God will fill the void in our souls.

Not just a little bit…He will multiple it so that we are satisfied. This is not just for some people…God’s love is infinite and extends to ALL of us. But we have to do our part. We have to be willing to ask for help and forgiveness. We have to spend time in prayer to enter the sacred shrine of our souls. We have to remain faithful to God no matter what trials we are facing.

If we do this, God will answer all our needs…He will satisfy our hunger. He will feed us with the only food that satisfies…the Bread of Life…His Son…Jesus Christ.

Be Made Clean

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 15, 2015)

Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

Psalm 32

1 Cor 10:31-11:1

Mark 1:40-45

Leprosy has affected humanity for thousands of years. But how much do you actually know about it? It is mentioned in the bible often so I thought it’d be beneficial for us to know some facts. Leprosy takes it’s name from the Latin word lepra, which means “scaly.” It is a chronic infection that is actually not very contagious. The symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin and eyes with the primary external sign being skin lesions. Left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the body. Thankfully, in our modern era, leprosy is very curable with treatment. In 2012, the new number of cases globally was 230,000, down from 5.2 million in the 1980s. Only around 200 cases are reported each year in the United States.

In biblical times, leprosy was seen as a punishment from God for a person’s sins. People thought it was highly contagious so they were frequently thrown out of the city. By separating the infected people, they were trying to stop the spread of the disease and to also keep the spiritually clean (the sin-less) from the spiritually unclean (the sinners). Alienation from the community was very painful since the Israelites had a strong sense of collective identity. So not only did the person with leprosy feel abandoned by their family and friends, they also felt like they were being punished and abandoned by God. Think about the emotional, psychological and spiritual toll this would take on a person. Put all of your bad days together and you’ll probably still not come close to the abandonment a person with leprosy felt in those days.

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine being that leper, separated from everyone. You are sitting on the outskirts of the city, abandoned and alone. You don’t feel loved and you are without hope. You are in a pit of darkness. But just when you are at the end of your rope, Jesus Christ, the Son of God walks up to you. You know who He is and what He can do for you. You look into His loving eyes, and beg for His help. You ask, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” His response, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Open your eyes.


Statistically speaking, it will be extremely rare for anyone in here to become infected with leprosy. However, there is a form of leprosy that has gotten wildly out of control in our culture. In one way or another, it has affected each and every one of us and is more contagious that the flu or the measles. What I am referring to is “leprosy of the mind.” No, I’m not talking about getting lesions on your brain…I’m speaking theoretically. “Leprosy of the mind” happens each and every time you sin. You see sin separates us from the community and from God. Habitual sin, sin that we do over and over again, can and will slowly change you on the inside which will eventually effect you on the outside. “Leprosy of the mind” is a slow eroding of one’s soul just as actual leprosy is a slow eroding of one’s body. The biggest difference between the two is that one is caught and one is chosen.  Nobody chooses to get sick but when we sin, it’s because we chose to do it. We chose to distance ourselves from God’s love.

There’s a part of this Gospel story that I didn’t notice until a friend of mine pointed it out. The man with leprosy was all alone, probably on the outskirts of town. He approached Jesus, who healed him body and soul and was now allowed to remain in the city. However, this miracle spread so fast that Jesus was forced to leave the city. The Gospel tells us that Jesus “remained outside in deserted places.” Jesus Christ switched places with the leper. Jesus went outside, so that the man could come back in.

When else do we see Jesus switching places with someone? On the cross. Jesus took His place on the cross in place of you. He did it for the remission of your sins. He did it so that you could have eternal life. This is something we really need to consider as we begin Lent in a few days. God allowed His Son to die a horrible death rather than risk losing you for all of eternity. I don’t know about you, but if I were Jesus, suffering a horrendous, slow, painful death…I’m pretty sure I would have hopped down off of that cross at the first sign of pain and ascended up to Heaven. But thankfully, Jesus stayed put out of love for you.


So what does the healing of the leper have to do with Jesus on the cross? It is God’s will that you follow Him and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Jesus desires to heal you…body and soul. So much so that He’s willing to switch places with you when necessary. But, out of love and respect for you, He’s not going to force Himself upon you. You have to ask and invite Him in. Just like how the leper approached Jesus and asked Him for healing, you too need to approach Jesus and ask for healing…in the confessional.

I can think of no better place to ask for God’s healing hand to mend your soul than through the sacrament of reconciliation. I’ve heard many people argue that they can confess their sins straight to God and don’t need a priest. Scripturally speaking, that is an inaccurate statement, which I’ve save for another day. Practically speaking, it takes a great act of humility to confess your sins out loud to another person. Plus, when we go to confession, we are confessing our sins to God. It just so happens we are doing it through one of God’s priests who is sitting in the place of Jesus. When Jesus walked the earth, only He could forgive Sins. But before He ascended to heaven, He turned that authority over to His Apostles and eventually His priests.

If the idea of confession gives you cold sweats and knots in your stomach or you aren’t sure what to confess, do me a favor and close your eyes one more time. Now picture yourself sitting in a small room on a chair with your eyes closed. The room is dimly lit and there is complete silence. In front of you, about three feet away, sits Jesus silently waiting for you to start the conversation. So you open your mouth and in a sincere voice say, “I’m sorry for all the times I completely ignored you and chose to go down the wrong path. I’m sorry for all the times that I’ve sinned since knowing you. I’m sorry for putting myself first, time and time again. I’m sorry for all the times when I didn’t love others the way you have shown me love. I’m sorry for not spending more time with you in prayer. I’m sorry for not being the person that you made me to be. And I am so incredibly sorry for when I…” and you continue to speak your sins out loud, without fear or hesitation. Open your eyes. When you are done speaking, the priest, sitting in the place of Christ, extends his hands over your head and speaks the three most powerful words that every soul desires to hear…. “I absolve you.” In other words, “Be made clean.” Confession is that simple. It just takes enough courage to walk through the confessional door and start speaking from the heart.

zamora confession

Last week Father Noel challenged you to invite a friend to Church during Lent. My challenge for you this Lent in simply this…go to confession. If you’ve been to confession in the past two weeks…awesome…don’t be afraid to go back often. If it’s been a week, a year, a decade or even longer…no more excuses! Just go. Jesus healed the leper and it’s His will to heal you as well.

Be A Beggar

2nd Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday (April 27, 2014)

Acts 2:42-47

Psalm 118

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

It only seems fitting that as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday today, we focus on the significance of what happened in today’s Gospel reading from John. I’m not talking about Thomas, the poor guy makes one mistake and he is labeled for eternity as “Doubting Thomas.”

doubting thomas

No, I’m talking about the significance of Jesus breathing on the disciples and how that relates to God’s never-ending mercy. Where else in the bible did God’s breath do something truly incredible? When He breathed life into Adam, the first human. And now God again breathes His Spirit onto the disciples. This should be a clue for us to pay attention here! Right before Jesus breathed on them he said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” How did the Father send Jesus? With all divine authority including the ability to forgive sins (cf Mark 2:5-12). Now in John’s Gospel, Jesus is giving this authority to the disciples (cf John 20:21-23).


But let’s be specific as to what authority Jesus is giving to the disciples at this moment. It’s in the very next line, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The only way for the disciples to have known which sins to forgive and which to retain is if the sins were orally spoken. This is why from the early church, confession was said out loud. Now why in the world would Jesus entrust the ability to forgive sins to His disciples? It is out of mercy! While Christ walked the earth, only He could forgive sins. But His time to ascend to His Father was near and He wanted us to be able to still receive His divine mercy though His forgiveness via one of His priests (cf James 5:14-16).

This is of the utmost importance because mortal sin kills the soul just like poison kills the body. You can have perfect physical health while your spiritual health is on the verge of death. Confession is spiritual medicine for us. It cleanses us. And if you’ve ever tried to convince yourself that your sins “aren’t that bad,” take some time meditating on a crucifix. God’s love put Christ on the cross for even the smallest sin we commit. Pope Francis said in his Easter homily that in the cross we see, “The immensity of God’s mercy that does not treat us as our sins deserve, but according to His mercy.”

francis good friday

Pope Francis

Why then are we so afraid and embarrassed of going to confession if our souls can be restored to a state of grace through it? Think about it for a second. A priest is ordained to help bring the love of God to the people. He is bound by the seal of confession to never be able to speak a word of what is said in the confessional to anyone….ever. And if he does, he will lose his ability to be a priest. He will be permanently fired from the priesthood. Furthermore, he’s heard it all before and probably worse. So get over yourself! Your sins aren’t so bad that he’s willing to lose his job by posting them on Facebook!

Plus, the words of absolution are so extremely powerful. For those that don’t know this terminology, this is the prayer the priest says at the end of the confession. It is probably the most beautiful Catholic prayer I’ve ever heard – “God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Don’t let pride keep you from hearing these words. Hearing these words on a regular basis will change your life because your soul will be constantly filled with God’s grace and love. Beg for His mercy in the confessional. We should all strive to be beggars before the Lord.

I want to close with a true story I heard from the well known Catholic author Scott Hahn. A priest was over in Rome attending a conference at the Vatican. He was walking to a local church for his evening prayers. There were many beggars on the church steps, which is common in Rome.


He thought he recognized one of them and asked him, “Do I know you?” “Yes, we went to seminary together,” was the reply. “What happened?” asked the priest. “I crashed and burned, leave me alone.” The priest realized he was running late to the last conference and simply said, “I’ll pray for you” as he walked away from the beggar. At the very end of the conference, each person in attendance got to go up and briefly meet the pope; at that time it was John Paul II. This priest went up and told the pope about what had happened with the beggar he just met. After the meeting the priest went back to try and locate the beggar. Thankfully he was still on the church steps where the priest last spoke with him. “I’m so glad I found you. I spoke to the pope about you and he has invited us to dinner!” The beggar was in disbelief and said, “I can’t go. I don’t have nice clothes and I’m dirty.” “You don’t understand, you are my ticket to dinner. If I don’t bring you, I’m not getting in! You can shower at my hotel and I have clothes you can wear.” So they got cleaned up and together they went to St. Peter’s. They were led to the dining hall by the Swiss Guards where John Paul II was already seated at the table.

John Paul II

Pope St. John Paul II

Towards the end of the meal, John Paul made a motion with his hands and suddenly one of the other men asked everyone to leave the room except the priest’s beggar friend. The priest stood in the hallway with everyone else for about 10 minutes wondering what in the world was going on inside between John Paul II and his friend. Then the doors opened, everyone sat down and finished with dessert. They all said their good byes and left St. Peter’s. “What happened in there?” the priest asked. “You’ll never believe me if I told you.” “Try me.” “When everyone left, the Holy Father asked me to hear his confession.” “Well, what did you say?” asked the priest. “I told him that I’m just a beggar.” “So am I,” replied John Paul II. So as the Bishop of Rome, he reinstated the beggar so that he was back in good standings with the church. After John Paul confessed to the priest, the former beggar then asked the Pope to hear his confession as well. John Paul then gave the reinstated priest his first assignment…to go back to the streets and minister to the other beggars. This man’s life was restored, physically and spiritually, through the sacrament of reconciliation.

We are all beggars that have been adopted by God’s love. He wants to heal our souls through the sacrament of reconciliation. We just need to be humble enough to walk into that confessional. Remember, it’s not an interrogation. It’s God trying to pour His love and mercy into us.

In the words of Pope John XXIII, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”


Pope St. John XXIII

The sacrament of reconciliation can and will do this. It can take your fears, your frustrations and your failures and turn them into new hope. So for the sake of your eternal salvation, go to confession often. Be a beggar before the Lord and allow God’s loving mercy to bathe new life into your soul!


(Much of this homily was inspired by a talk I heard on a CD by Scott Hahn titled, “The Healing Power of Confession” published by Lighthouse Catholic Media.)