Thursday, March 12, 2015

reconciliation + encounter

"Lord, I love you; have mercy on me and forgive my sins."

The first thing I pray when my knees hit the kneeler before Mass or at Adoration is some version of the above - an expression of love, coupled with a request for mercy and forgiveness because my love is imperfect, and the sin is born from my inability to love perfectly is blinding. I want to eliminate the sin that keeps me from "seeing" God. 

In other words, I am seeking reconciliation. And usually about once a month or so, I seek this reconciliation formally, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation... Confession. 

But what does reconciliation really mean?

I like to break words down into their most basic meanings, and this is a great word to pull apart. I'm not the first to comment on this, by far (I've read it in articles, on numerous blogs, and Fr. Robert Barron discusses it in his "Priest, Prophet, King" series, as well), but if you break the word reconciliation into its component parts, you have: re-con-cilia-tion. The first three are the most important: re = again, con = with, cilia = eyelash. So, reconciliation essentially means "to be eyelash to eyelash again". When we are reconciled to God, we have literally turned away from the disorder of our sin, and have turned back to face him again. 

Once reconciled, we are able to love and honor God properly - totally facing him, instead of turned away, facing the world. We are free to encounter Jesus, the Living Word. 

One of the great stories of conversion recounted in the Gospels is that of the Samaritan woman at the well, and I think it illustrates well this idea of reconciliation and encounter. The Samaritan woman, who is living in sin, is at first unable to comprehend his presence at the well. She doesn't really "see" him - until he reveals his knowledge of her sin, and his identity as Messiah. Reconciliation and encounter are somewhat implicit here, but they become clear through their effects when the woman returns to her village, proclaiming Jesus. Because of her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman - who had presumably been an outcast in her village because of her sin - has now become an evangelist, seeking to bringing more people to the same reconciliation and encounter she has experienced. 

Though I've certainly not had five husbands (happy with the one I've got, and one is definitely enough!), ;) and have never drawn water from a well in a dusty town in Samaria, I can relate to the woman at the well - and just fielding a guess, we probably all can relate to her. Jesus knows everything I've ever done, and has offered me his mercy. When I accept his mercy and am reconciled to him, he invites me into encounter - invites me to know him, as the Living Word, as Love, as Lord. 

"Lord, I love you; reconcile me to yourself so I may live in your love." 

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