On the need for Confession

4th Sunday of Lent
Friends in Christ, today we hear Our dear Lord tell this parable of the prodigal son. Here is this son, who took his inheritance and left, to find his own way in the world.
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‘And he gathered up all his wealth, and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his fortune in loose living.’
This young man went to try out all the pleasures that the world has to offer; he thought he would find happiness. Jesus tells this parable 2000 years ago, but it still applies today.
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We, still today, try to find happiness in many of the wrong things, and they leave us empty. We think that if we commit this or that sin, we will be happy; if I indulge in this lifestyle or that – after all, everyone else is doing it, ‘God just doesn’t understand, his commandments don’t apply to me.’
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So we often take the easy way out, or we follow the crowd; we may do something wrong to try to make our life easier or happy. But in the end, sin always makes us unhappy and guilty. Then we are like that young man in the gospel:
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‘And after he had spent all, there came a grievous famine over that country, and he began himself to suffer want. And he went and joined one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his farm to feed swine. And he longed to fill himself with the pods the swine were eating, but no one gave them to him.’
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That young man in the gospel had experimented with the promises of the world. But now he was empty and sad. He could only find a job to care for the pigs. He is each of us – when we commit sin, we feel deep down, that we have betrayed Someone. Someone who is very important to us. Someone who loves us – who created us. We wish to turn to God and say: ‘Lord, I feel lost. I need you in my life – please Help me.’
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The devil lures us all the time with his promises: ‘Go ahead, do this – you will be happy. Then we do it. Then the devil says: ‘Look at what you’ve done. Now you are no longer part of God’s kingdom.’ As St. Paul himself said: ‘We end up doing the very thing we didn’t want to do.’ So our sin makes us feel disgusted with ourself, and we don’t even want to pray.
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One of the teachers in school reminded the kids that they would be going to confession this week. We go once a month at St. John’s school. One little boy just blurted out: ‘Awesome!,’ he said. The teacher asked: ‘’you like to go to confession?’ The boy said, ‘I really need to apologize to God for some things; I need to get some things off of my chest.’
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You know, that prodigal son in the gospel – he wallowed in his sins for a long time, his empty life. He hated himself. He felt estranged from God. Then he realizes what each of us knows: There is one thing I have to do. It is difficult, but I have to do it. I have to swallow my pride, and admit my sin. How many times does scripture say that a broken, humbled heart is what God really wants. In other words, he wants us to be sorry, and repent, and throw ourselves into his merciful arms.
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‘And coming to his senses he thought, I shall arise and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am not even worthy to be called your son.’
This is exactly what each of us must do. As that boy said in class, ‘we must go and apologize to God.’ We must kneel down and admit our sins to God’s ambassador, the priest: ‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned – and we name our sins.’ There is no happier person on earth, than the one who has gone to confession, who is freed from the burden of his guilt. We are required to go to Confession at least once a year, but really, going every month is best.
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Dr. Carl Jung was a very famous psychiatrist from years ago; Dr. Jung was not a Catholic at all, but he observed in his time, that fewer Catholics had mental disorders. (Of course in those days most Catholics were practicing their faith.) Now for years, he had searched for a way to help his patients resolve their guilt. Late in life, he noticed that one of his clients showed no signs of guilt or bitterness. He asked her how this could be, with all that she had done. How she could be at such peace?
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She said she was a Catholic, and that Jesus had died for her sins; and that he gave the power to forgive sins to His priests when he said: ‘Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.”
He looked at her with great amazement and said, ‘You’ve found the pearl of great price for which I’ve searched diligently for more than 30 years! Please never stop going to confession.’
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Jesus is the world expert on the human heart, because he made it. He made us. He knows what we need. He knows that we need to get things off our chest, to begin again.  
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Friends, we are all the prodigal sons and daughters. We have in the past, and continue, to fall into sin – But love is most often discovered only after it’s been lost.
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‘And while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion. And he ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him.’ This father was overjoyed to receive his son back, and this is how it is with Our Heavenly Father.
‘Let us celebrate, he says, because my child has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.’
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So let us conclude by going to Mary. This dear Blessed Virgin will always help us, even if we are discouraged. Mary pray for us, that even if we find ourselves far from God, we will always arise, and return to our Father’s House.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Joseph]

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