Reconciliation Lectionary: 1 John 1:5-2:2

mary-the-penitent.jpgIn 1 John, we are given the starkest contrast: the darkness and the light. It seems simple enough to think of sin as associated with darkness. One of the favorite preaching themes of my pastor is to remind Advent or Lenten penitents at form II that sin loves to hide itself, to wrap itself in camouflage, even the appearance of virtue. Getting sin out into the open robs it of its power over us.

Perhaps the author of 1 John had a similar thought. Let’s read the selection from the Rite of Penance, #168:

Beloved:
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you: God is light,
and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with God,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Self-deception is also a common quality associated with sin. In wrapping itself in a mantle of darkness, sin can also mask the eyes of a believer. A believer is thus trapped in a false sense of self, a skewed perspective. What’s the solution? Roman Catholicism would suggest a confessor.

I think this passage is very suitable for a communal rite of Penance at any time. Much food for thought, and many possibilities for preaching.

A shorter option is 1:6-7, 9, given at #83 in the Rite, under “Short Readings from Scripture” for the “Reconciliation of One Penitent.”

If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we acknowledge our sins,
he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins
and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.

This seems a bit more direct. Definitely suitable for a celebration with a single penitent.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Rite of Penance, Scripture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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