2020-03-08 Father Francois Beyrouti's Homily:"Confession, Not Just to God."
This is the link to Sunday's homily: https://youtu.be/XAgKU79_Jjk
The text of the full homily and readings are below.
Confession, Not Just to God.
Sunday, March 8, 2020 homily by Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Hebrews 1:10-2:4. Mark 2:1-12.
Second Sunday of the Great Fast.
The Holy Relics and St. Gregory Palamas.
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Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
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“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven’ ” (Mark 2:5). Those listening to Jesus were scandalized when they heard Jesus say this. They wondered: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) The irony of this discussion is that since Jesus is God, He did have the authority to forgive sins. However, it is not only God who can forgive sins.
There are two aspects to sin. Sin is an offense against both God and others. When the prodigal son returned to his father he said: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21. Cf. 15:18). He recognized that his sin was against both his heavenly Father and his earthly father. The issue of forgiveness is an important one for us during this time of Great Lent. Confession in particular, is important to help remind us of the connection between recognizing that we have sinned against God and others.
There are three important aspects to confession. First, confession helps us to stop and admit that we all sin in one way or another. Second, confession helps us to reflect on the damage that sin does to our relationship with God and with others. Third, confession assures us that when we are honest with God and others, forgiveness is possible.
When we think of sin, we have to first admit that it is possible for us to sin. Sometimes we are not entirely convinced that it is even possible for us to sin. Once I was talking to a group of people and someone told me: “I don’t need to go to confession because I don’t sin.” First, I told him, it is a sin to say that we do not sin.
We read the following in the first letter of Saint John: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
The second thing I told him is: “If you can’t think of even one sin, I’m sure your wife will be more than happy to help you.” All we have to do to heal ourselves of our inability to think of our sins is to ask someone else whether we have sinned. It is often easier to see the small sins of others than it is to see our own most obvious and damaging sins.
Jesus tells us: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
The point of admitting our sins is not to depress us, but rather to remind us that we can be better people when we acknowledge our weakness before God and others. We cannot grow spiritually, if we are not honest with ourselves.
The second point is also important. Sin does real damage to our relationships with God and with others. When we lie we damage the ability of others to believe us. They might want to believe us, but we end up making it difficult for them. This is equally true for all our sins: if we swear, hurt someone physically or emotionally, are manipulative, unfaithful in our relationships, we make it very difficult for people to trust us. The relationship of trust and friendship that may have been strong is weakened because of our careless sins. We should do our best to forgive each other. However, the tragedy is that it is very easy to hurt someone, but very difficult for the person whom we hurt to heal.
This leads us to the third point regarding confession. Confession helps us to honestly place our sins before us so that we can overcome them. When children are hiding, they often close their eyes. They feel that if they do not see anyone, then no one can see them. Do we also live this way? Or are we like David who said: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Your sight, …” (Psalm 51:3-4).
Therefore, confession is important because it helps us, first, to stop and admit that we all sin in one way or another. Second, confession also helps us to reflect on the damage that sin does to our relationship with God and with others. Third, confession assures us that when we are honest with God and others, forgiveness is possible.
These three elements are part of the sacrament of confession, but they should also be part of our daily life. Even before we have a chance to go to confession we should be humble enough to recognize that we do sin and that our sin hurts ourselves and those around us.
In today’s Gospel the scribes wonder: “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) The good news is that God can forgive our sins. The good news is also that we can forgive others when they sin against us. However, this is not possible if we feel that we do not sin.
The sacrament of confession helps us to see our relationship with God and others in a more honest way. We do this not to put ourselves down, but to help us appreciate how much God loves us.
When we are honest before God, we can be sure to hear these words: “My child, your sins ARE forgiven you.” When we recognize our sins and
There is a great joy in recognizing our sins. Because when we do this we place them before us so that we can move them out of our way. We also place them before God so that He can move them out of our way.
Ultimately, true healing and true spiritual growth only come when we are honest with God and with ourselves.
Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews: 1:10-2:4
You in the beginning, O Lord, did found the earth, and the heavens are works of your hands. They shall perish, but you shall continue; and they shall all grow old as does a garment, and as clothing shall you change them, and they shall be changed. But you are the same, and your years shall not fail (Ps. 101: 26-28). Now, to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool at your feet” (Ps. 109: 1)? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent for service, for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation? That is why we should all the more earnestly observe the things we have heard, lest perhaps we drift away. For if the word spoken by angels proved to be valid, and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? For it was first announced by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard it.
Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
At that time Jesus entered Caparnaum, and it was reported that he was at home. And immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even around the door. And he spoke the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four. And since they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was, and, having made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the Paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” Now some of the Scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man blaspheme in this way? Who can forgive sins, beside God?” And at once Jesus, knowing in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why are you arguing these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet, and walk’? But that you may know the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” ― he said to the paralytic ― “I say to you, arise, take up your pallet, and go to your house,” And immediately he arose and, taking up his pallet, went forth in the sight of all, so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, “Never did we see anything like this!”