In Baptism God claims us as beloved. Yet, time and time again we stray from life in God. We seek to trust God categorically, yet we do not. We act in ways that neglect God’s love for us and God’s love for all of humankind.
Saint Paul puts it this way: "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15).
When we seek Reconciliation in confession and forgiveness, we seek new life anew. We seek a return to and trust in God’s promise of new life in the refreshing, life-giving waters of Baptism.
Even though we stray, God intends for us to know the love first shown to us in Baptism. God is so bent on having us know and live this love that God gives the gift of Reconciliation always and freely — without hesitation. God is this faithful to us. God loves us this much. God forgives us all our sins.
God is committed and so are we.
Reconciliation returns us to Baptism, to the gift of new life. We are set free, again as in Baptism, to love others freely just as God has loved us. Confession and forgiveness reconciles us to God and to one another.
Reconciliation finds its fullest expression in community: people once estranged from God and from each other now knit together in forgiveness and reconciling love.
Being knit together is never easy. But it is a gift of God, a wonderful gift enriched only through practice. Christians practice this pattern of reconciliation in various settings: in private with a pastor or with another sister and brother in Christ; gathered together in public as a whole community.
In whatever way it is practiced, the fullness of reconciliation is expressed most warmly when all exchange a sign of peace. That sign comes in various ways: a greeting and embrace, a kiss of peace. In whatever way peace is exchanged, it embodies in human form, God’s love for all the world.