We have entered the final part of Lent entitled Holy Week. As Christians, we strive to follow Jesus in his final passion, suffering and death. One day we also will suffer and die. There is something deeply human about death. We cannot escape it. Yet we pretend and put into the backs of our minds this inevitability. When we have witnessed close friends and family die we are brought closer to the reality of death. Just under 2 years ago my own father passed away. In the last moments of his life his many children gathered around his bed for the last time. Letting go of conflicts and disputes that have been held onto for many years. Death seems to reach beyond the walls and barriers our egos have set up. Death brings closure to suffering. Death brings something which words cannot explain.
When we die we do not think “I wish I earned more money or I wish I had a bigger house”. Rather as we approach death we think “I wish I spent more time with my loved ones”. Relationships are the key to a happy death. In the same way relationships are the key to a happy life. Research conducted by a university in the United States across 75 years recently discovered those who lived the longest had many good relationships. Relationship is the key.
God wants us as we approach life and death to have good relationships. The sacrament of reconciliation strives to bring about good relationships. This is genius on God’s part, by ritualising the reconciliation process we enable a movement which our own ego cannot solve. Thus the sacrament of reconciliation is meant to restore hope where hope has been lost. Yet this is the forgotten sacrament. A sacrament many people think is unnecessary. Yet the sacrament of reconciliation is the doorway to life itself. We invite God into us. All of us. In the good and the bad. Reconciliation is needed not because someone has made a rule about this. Rather reconciliation moves us beyond death to new life. A new life that does not start when we die, a new life which starts the moment we say “yes”. Our joys and our sorrows are brought to God.