Why Confess Sins to a Priest?

Why Confess Sins to a Priest?

During his lifetime, Jesus often sent his disciples to minister in his place.

Sending them two by two, he gave them authority to proclaim the Kingdom of God, cure the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead! (Matthew 10) These are all divine actions that Jesus normally would have done himself but instead, he often chose to give these gifts of truth and healing through weak, sinful human beings. 

At the end of John's gospel, we find that Jesus even entrusted his apostles with the authority to forgive sins!  After his Resurrection, he greeted the apostles and told them, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  Harkening back to God breathing life into Adam and Eve, Jesus breathed on the apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:21-23) 

This is truly astonishing, for the authority to forgive sins belongs to God alone.  And yet Jesus entrusts this authority to the apostles, despite knowing how weak and fragile they are. This is a gift that he intended to be passed down throughout the centuries. Just as Jesus meant for the preaching of the Gospel to continue after the apostles, he also intended for his mercy and forgiveness to be experienced in every generation. 

So when people wonder why they should confess their sins to a priest, rather than straight to God, there is a simple answer:  "Because that's the way Jesus chose for it to be!"  The Lord knows how best to give us his gifts.  Just as he chose to give his gifts through the ministry of the apostles while he was still on earth, Jesus chose to continue to give us the spiritual gifts we need through the human ministers of his Church. 

Confession is truly one of the joys of being Catholic. In this Sacrament of Reconciliation, we encounter our Divine Physician in person.  We speak our sins out loud before the priest, but Jesus is the one really doing the forgiving.  The priest is simply acting as the "ears and voice" of the Lord.  One of the most beautiful moments in the Christian life is to hear Jesus say to us in the Sacrament of Confession, "Your sins are forgiven, go in peace!" 

For answers to common questions about the Catholic faith, visit www.CatholicBridge.com.   And if you are searching for the Lord's mercy and forgiveness, we would like to help welcome you home. 

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