“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.”
John the Baptist was called by God to prepare the people of Israel for Jesus of Nazareth.
Firstly John preached repentance.
There are different kinds of repentance
True repentance has nothing to do with fear; fear of God, fear of Hell, fear of punishment, fear of embarrassment, fear of discovery.
True repentance is a deep regret for hurt, pain and injury which I have directly caused to others or am in some way implicated in.
For example, I can be directly abusive to others or I can vote for someone I know is abusive to others. I can steal myself or I can buy something I know or strongly suspect has been stolen. I can dent someone parked car and drive away unnoticed or I can leave a note with my phone number.
The test is truth. Am I truly repentant for hurts or injury I have caused directly or indirectly or am I repentant because of some perceived repercussions for myself.
For years and years I went to confession seeking forgiveness, but my motivation was not true repentance but selfish self preservation from future perceived punishment. What is now known as ‘covering one’s ass.’
That is why I question how the sacrament of Reconciliation has been presented to us and is still presented to us. It fosters self interest, self preservation. It is not authentic. it is focused on oneself and the protecting of oneself from future unpleasant repercussions and retribution. There are exceptions of course and some people do demonstrate true and deep repentance for hurts given and help withheld.
But I believe that by and large Confession, as still practised today, is counterproductive, unauthentic and largely self deception. I would recommend that each one of us looks back over the many times we have gone to confession over the years and judge honestly for oneself.
My aim is not to cause you to worry about the past and whether you have been forgiven or not. Forget about the past. Trust in one’s God and look to an authentic future where you walk hand in hand with your God.
My God does not want me to wallow in regret, guilt or have scruples about the past. These are detriment to my relationship with my God and stultify my spiritual life.
My God wants me to plant the flowers of justice, love, compassion and giving in the garden of my life and not waste my time continually trying to uproot weeds.