Kolkata – a hot n humid, polluted n populated city for some. But for me it truly is the City of Joy. I spent the best year of my life there, working as a fulltime volunteer for a youth group. Last weekend, I got a chance to go back to Kolkata after five years and relive the best days of my life once again. Can’t thank God enough for that!! Every street I walked through, every place I visited, every friend I met brought back so many memories!!!
One such memory was rekindled when I met a close friend of mine. During my earlier stay, a retreat was arranged in his school and as a part of the retreat everyone was encouraged to confess. This friend of mine was also one among them, but every time he reached the confessional he would back out. I ran behind him, caught him, took him to the confessional twice and made sure he confessed. Last weekend when we met we talked and laughed about that incident, but both of us knew that incident played such an important role in his life! He still talks about it and shares his experience with others.
Confession was a dreadful experience for me as well. The thought of recollecting and telling all the sins I did was scary!! Before I joined my engineering college, I confessed only twice and that too because it was mandatory and that too half-heartedly. But then one confession changed it all forever. It was towards the end of my first year in college. I reluctantly went for a youth retreat. The first couple of days were fun, but then came the day we had to go for Confession!!! I thought of making it as quick as I could. But when I started, I went on and on and on. All the sin and the filth in my life, which I had hidden deep inside me for years, just came out. I started crying and I still remember the priest’s hand becoming wet by tears which were rolling down my cheeks. At the end of it, he just said, “your sins are forgiven. I absolve you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” No questions asked! No conditions kept!! I can’t share with you, how I felt when I heard those words. It was as if a big huge load was taken off me and suddenly I could breathe freely!! I knew I came back home, I came back to God, my loving Father!
Since then, confession has helped me strengthen my relationship with God. Coming to think of it now, my decision to go for the one year fulltime volunteership - the best decision I ever took in my entire life, also came from a confessional. Sometimes confession is such a strong experience for me when I feel transformed, touched, healed, liberated; and sometimes I don’t feel anything at all after confessing. But I know that no matter what, every time I confess, I’m cleansed of my unworthiness, I receive His abundant grace, I’m welcomed with His arms wide open. I recently read a mail written by a priest in which he said, “The Confessional is a place where people let God's love win. In Confession, we meet Jesus who reminds us, "You are worth dying for . . . even in your sins, you are worth dying for." Confession is always a place of victory. Whether you have confessed a particular sin for the first time, or if this is the 12,001st time, every Confession is a win for Jesus.”
I rediscovered one of the most amazing Psalms about confession. It goes like this:
When I kept my sin secret, my body wasted away,
I was moaning all day long.
your hand day and night lay heavy upon me;
draining my strength, parching my heart
as in the heat of a summer drought.
Then I made known to you my sin
and uncovered before you my fault, saying to myself,
“To the Lord, I will now confess my wrong”.
And you, you forgave my sin and removed my guilt.....
You are my refuge;
you protect me from distress
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
In this season of lent, as we prepare to partake in the suffering of Jesus and wait to experience the joy of His resurrection, let’s make use of this opportunity to confess, to come back Home, to meet the life-transforming, costly love of God . . . freely given to us every time we ask for it.