Penance is the sacrament by which we receive God’s healing forgiveness for sins committed after baptism. The rite is called reconciliation because it reconciles us not only with God but with the Church community. Both these aspects of reconciliation are important [1468-1470].
As members of Christ’s Body, everything we do affects the whole Body. Sin wounds and weakens the Body of Christ; the healing we receive in penance restores health and strength to the Church, as well as to ourselves.
When a person turns aside or away from God’s love, the harm is to the sinner. Venial sin strains one’s relationship with God. Mortal sin ruptures the relationship [1854-1863].
Sin is a tragic realty. But the sacrament of penance is a joyful reunion. Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel expresses this joy poignantly: the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being too merciful. In response, Jesus tells three parables. In the first, God is like a shepherd who leaves ninety-nine sheep to seek one who is lost. When he finds it, he is filled with joy .”
In the second parable, a woman finds a valuable coin she had lost and throws a big party. Jesus comments: “In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents (15:10) [545-546].
The third parable is the story of the wayward son. When the son returns home, his father receives him with a tender embrace .
When you confess your sins sincerely, with true sorrow and resolution not to sin again, God rejoices. The Pharisees depicted in Luke’s Gospel were stern, rigid men – stricter judges than God. In contrast, the Father revealed by Jesus himself, whom you meet in this sacrament. Like Father, like Son. In penance, Jesus embraces and heals you [1441-1442].
[ ] Catechism of the Catholic Church