Asking Forgiveness

forgivenessThe Family Leadership Summit is an annual affair that promotes its conservative Evangelical Christian identity and values around the family. Given that it is Iowa based, it is no surprise that in 2015 the Republican-Party hopefuls were on the podium and present at “town hall” meetings. Given the audience and agenda, it should come as no surprise what kind of questions you are going to face – and, as any good speaker would pay attention to, what kind of language the audience is waiting to hear in any response. The questions came as no surprise: “What is your relationship to Jesus Christ? Are you saved? How does your faith form your political world view?”

All of the questions are good ones – and not just for candidates. How would you, as Jane and Joe Anyone, answer them? Given this is a presidential election year, the last of the three questions is particularly relevant. I have to imagine that the candidates would have reflected upon the questions they knew were coming. If it were me, I would have thought about the words I would use and wondered how they would be picked apart by the audience and the press. It is a daunting task and not for the faint of heart.

One of the GOP hopefuls was asked, “Have you ever asked God for forgiveness?” This should be easy one, right? Just answer, “Yes.” One of the hopefuls responded that he had never asked God for forgiveness but just worked to “make it right.” Well, ya’ have to give points for honesty. As you can imagine, the press reports had a field day, and the other hopefuls did not let the answer pass unnoticed.

I think there is much to be said for “making it right.” But what about asking God’s forgiveness? Never? Maybe as a Catholic and having access to the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation, I have a hard time imagining a professed Christian as never asking God’s forgiveness. I would hazard a guess that there might be a tendency to place less emphasis on making things right. But not asking God’s forgiveness? Only God can forgive sins.

Today I was at Falkenburg Road Jail – with all this stewing around in my mind. Someone at the Catholic Mass asked me why Catholics asked a priest for forgiveness (referring to Reconciliation). Interesting question from someone looking in at all things Catholic. The short answer is: we don’t ask the priest for forgiveness; one asks God. And this is the priest’s response to the confession: “God the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has sent the Holy Spirit into the world for the forgiveness of sin. Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” God is doing all the “heavy lifting”; I am just letting people know about God’s forgiveness and love.

Ask for God’s forgiveness. “Blessed is the one whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no deceit. Because I kept silent, my bones wasted away; I groaned all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength withered as in dry summer heat. Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, “I confess my transgression to the LORD,” and you took away the guilt of my sin.” (Ps 32:1-5)

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