For over two years now, my wife and I have been blessed to live in a comfortable townhouse in a suburb community.
During this span, we’ve experienced many wonderful and joyful memories, visiting with loved family and friends, and welcoming our two treasured sons into the world.
But owning a home has also carried many responsibilities and challenges, including regular maintenance of the house.
Earlier this summer, Catherine and I arranged for some much-needed interlock landscaping to be done in a portion of our driveway. Following the work, I decided to pave the remainder of the driveway, as new asphalt sealer would accentuate the interlock while bringing new life to the front side of our home.
It occurred to me during this work that driveway sealing is very much like the sacrament of reconciliation.
While working to great lengths to evenly pave our driveway, giving it a sharper and livelier appearance in the process, I was reminded of how God wishes to pave over our sins and give us a clean slate.
As I aimed to fill any asphalt crevices by rolling over them with sealer mix, I appreciated how the confession of our sins enables God’s endless offer of a fresh start, washing away our stains and recreating a smooth and even surface in our lives.
Just like our driveway receiving a new look, this grace-filled sacrament of reconciliation allows for rebirth and renewal of our minds, bodies, hearts and souls.
Jesus presents this very opportunity to us through priests, His earthly representatives. This longstanding Church sacrament traces back to Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance to His apostles, when He commissioned them to forgive the sins of all through His holy authority. (John 20:19-23)
Yet, while attending confession seems so simple in having God steamroll our transgressions, it is often far easier in theory than in practice.
Some people might consider themselves too busy to speak with a priest, while others may feel too uncomfortable. There may be others still who simply have not truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit envelop them in past reconciliation experiences, and are therefore reluctant or skeptical to explore God’s powerful healing available to them.
This can become a point of contention between ourselves and anyone wishing to encourage us to go to confession. But just as stress can build up between my wife and me over the quality and timeliness of my driveway sealing performance, the absence of reconciling with God and receiving absolution for our sins can further widen the gap between us and the Lord.
Without confession, our sins can cloud our judgment and compromise our subsequent actions, causing us to drift further from God and preventing us from recognizing His omnipresent love. (Isaiah 59:2)
Conversely, the sacrament of reconciliation can introduce new joy with God once again, providing tremendous strength and liberation. Like the pride and relief I felt after having completed our driveway sealing, a weight is lifted from our shoulders when we confess our sins and are reunited with Christ.
Calculating the preparation required and the completion of the sealing job itself, I must admit I spent several hours devoted to improving our asphalt driveway. After having applied multiple coats of sealing mix on different occasions during this sequence, I would continue to notice some spots left unattended.
My wife – along with many others, I’m sure – knows me to be a bit of a perfectionist and would suggest I stop obsessing about smaller details such as these.
But perhaps we can all stand to demonstrate this characteristic a little more when it comes to developing our relationship with God and with one another.
After all, are we not called to live more like Jesus, the model of perfection? Perhaps three coats of sealing applied to our driveway in efforts to cover the surface entirely and cleanly were akin to our need to return to confession regularly, erasing our faults so that we may once again be renewed with God.
May all of us feel empowered and invited to seek healing and forgiveness for our sins through confession, in order that we may grow even closer to God and our neighbor with each passing day.
Who knew the road to Heaven would be paved with asphalt?