Is anyone familiar with the show ‘Hoarders’? Now – let me say first that I am not one for exploiting people’s illnesses … it is a terrible disease. Nevertheless, I could not help but think a profound comparison between that type of illness and what we celebrate today, the Second Sunday of Easter known as Divine Mercy Sunday. In the show, professional cleaners and psychologists are tasked with helping people who suffer from hoarding. They have the unique duty to help these folks start clean up, to throw things out, to let go of their things. But it is not easy for them. For many people, the need to hold on to things represents their inability to let go of the past – sufferings, hurts, regrets, relationships, and so on. They hold on to these things to the point where a visitor cannot get into a room, or the kitchen or even into the house. It may be so bad that not even the occupant can move about freely in their own home. The professionals then have to help them, slowly, throw things out, clean out rooms, and so on so that they can open doors and walk with ease throughout their house.
Friends, we do this to our souls with regard to sin. We hold on to things – past hurts, sufferings, resentments, grudges, regrets and so on … the list is endless. It builds up so much that it makes it nearly impossible for our Lord to enter and for us to enjoy a particular freedom – the freedom of God’s friendship, of not being bound by these things and becoming the men and women God created us and desires us to become. How do we let go then? How do we clean out the interior house – our souls?
In the Gospel today St. John tells us that Jesus, after appearing to the Apostles breathed on them and said – “whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained.” In that statement, Jesus bestows His own divine authority to His Apostles to aid the faithful in cleaning house, in putting their souls in right order – to forgive the sins of the people. God helps us to clean out our interior by sending His own professionals – priests – to aid us in letting go of our sins in dispensing His mercy upon us.
Folks, this is what confession does for us – cleans us out on the inside, puts things in right order, so that when we open the doors of our hearts there may be room for God to enter. Confession aids us in letting go of all that we have “hoarded” so that we may enjoy the freedom of God’s friendship and become our truest selves. Much like the folks on that show, the cleaning happens gradually over time – same with confession … it may hurt a bit to examine our lives and recognize our need for God’s mercy, we may confess the same sins over and over, yet gradually over time, as the cleaning process unfolds, we become changed … we become more peaceful … Jesus speaks words of peace to His Apostles … confession is that for us … it is peace knowing that God is making things right in us.
In April of the year 2000 Pope St. John Paul II instituted this day as a Feast of Mercy. He did so to honor Jesus’ request to St. Faustina. He was a Pope dedicated to mercy. He often described that Divine Mercy was the answer to the world’s problems and our own. In fact, Jesus told Sr. Faustina that: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy” (Diary, 300).
God’s mercy is a great gift to us, it is infinite, not meant to judge nor condemn … rather to make us whole. Our souls depend on His mercy. The longer we distance ourselves from this sacrament the more we push God away, keep Him from entering … Mercy is the invitation for us to trust in God and let Him in.