Understanding Unity and Accountability Through the Lens of Confession

For the last week, there has been a lot of talk about unity. This comes on the heels of an attack on our country’s Capitol that left much of the country shook and uncertain of our future. Almost immediately those who still support Trump started shifting the blame, dismissing the pain others are feeling about the attack, and now that many are looking for accountability, his leftover supporters and some Christians are saying that Trump should not be impeached in the name of unity.

This morning, as I was praying through my own unwillingness to write about this subject because I can’t decide if I’m too angry or not enough, it occurred to me that the Church gives us a model for moving forward in a situation like this. The sacrament of reconciliation perfectly models what I would like to see happen from these events.

1. The first and most important part of confession, is that you must admit what you have done wrong, and that you have done something wrong. Sometimes this is hard because there was something good you thought you were doing that led to the bad thing, or you didn’t realize how bad it was. That’s ok though, because you are allowed to explain that, and we do believe it lessens the severity of your sin. We are all held accountable for when we are deliberately ignorant-which is when you should have known better, or tried to know better, but you can repent for that too.

2. Next, the priest gives you counsel, which is advice and encouragement to help you to avoid doing the same thing again, and hopefully also encouragement that God loves you, and will help you to do better.

3. Then, before your sin is forgiven, you are given a penance, or an action you must do to make amends for what you did. Usually we are confessing actions that do not lend themselves well to physically making amends, so we are given prayers to say instead. When I was very young, I once confessed stealing, and was given the penance of giving one of my Christmas presents to charity. That was the most fitting penance I probably ever received, although I was arguably a little young for that(my mom actually gave me an extra gift for the penance so I wouldn’t have to give one up.) In the Psalms, King David’s amends for having an affair with Bathsheba was to teach others not to sin in the way he did.

4. Then, you are given absolution. Now, your sin is forgiven, and you are freed from it. As long as you perform your penance and never do it again, it is as if it never happened. This is the moment of the prodigal son parable when the Father embraces his lost son and throws a feast for him. Once he has sincerely apologized and agreed to make amends(the son offers to live as a servant in his father’s house) the son is welcomed back into the fold as a son. This is the most beautiful piece of our faith, the belief that God is waiting for us to realize we messed up to welcome us in His open, loving arms.

5. Go, and SIN NO MORE.

I think in many ways, this is the progression that we are lacking in public relations at the moment, we can’t just work toward unity with recognizing there is a problem(as Stephen Colbert said, “You have to root out the sickness before you can begin healing.”) I believe that Democrats and many Republicans made the first move towards this this year, we saw that the anger and extremism was just dividing us to worse and worse candidates, and this year we chose the most Republican democratic candidate we possibly could have. Biden has a reputation for, and has indeed said himself, that he does not fit in either party. He is too Republican for the Democrats, and too Democrat for the Republicans. He has fought for pro-life issues when he felt like they were legal, and he has fought for the poor, he has fought for the police, and for police accountability.

Republicans, by choosing this candidate, who is not by any means their dream candidate, the Democrat party reached out to you, and asked for unity. They said, hey, we have been too intense too, can we all drop this fight and work together? They didn’t drop everything they want, but they did reach out. They made amends by choosing Biden, will you accept their amends, and approach them with your amends of admitting that Trump was too far. They are not asking that you drop every thing you want, what we are asking is that you also admit that this went too far-renounce the lies and violence that Trump has promulgated-if not participated in, make amends to those who are hurting, and don’t pursue violent means to do what you want to do again. Keep pursuing truth, seeking your rights, but not through destroying those who disagree with you. ♥️

Democrats, you reached out. You are hurt and angry now, and you are having a hard time forgiving now that it has gotten as ugly as it has. That makes sense. It is hard. For many, there was a time when you had to change your mind too, even maybe with this particular issue. Maybe you believed in Trump, maybe you believed in a more extreme Democrat candidate, and realized it was too much. Welcome republicans back to unity, once they have sincerely apologized and made amends(or at least begun to make them.) Receive them, and try to be gentle as they try to set aside what their violent leaders have been pushing for the last 4 years. Don’t lose patience with compromise, it’s hard-so hard-but it’s worth it. ♥️ Do not let yourself pursue violent means to your own desires either.

For the rest of us, who vacillate in the middle, may we continue to discern the right course of action, and work to help others to become “purple people,” not Republicans or Democrats, but to make informed decisions based on who is the right candidate, what is the right choice. May we never allow ourselves to get carried away by anger or hatred and become what we fear the most, allow ourselves to become proud of not being “the extremists,” or allow ourselves to be lukewarm.

Then, we can all safely pursue unity, and work towards compromises that will help both sides to achieve what we want. It won’t be perfect, it never is, but every time we make the choice to work towards a better world for all of us through peace, we show each other our commitment to unity and to holding ourselves and each other accountable for our own actions.

May our country every day look more and more like the “One Country Under God” we proudly proclaim.

May we never hold our politicians higher than Him.

May we always remember that people may be corrupted by power, and that our government was created in submission to God to keep us safe from human flaws.

May we see peace and brighter world for our children. May they never know the fear of watching school shootings on the news, and may they never see the natural disasters we have. May they never fear for their lives due to riots, or war, or hurricanes, or disease. When they do fear, may they be so united to others in love that they may never see the dark side of their suffering. ♥️

May you reading this be blessed abundantly, may you work towards unity, and be unafraid to being your own beauty into the mix.

In His Love,

Me

Note: This is primarily directed towards those who have supported Trump and used unity as an excuse to not hold him accountable, it should not be taken as meaning that Democrats have nothing to be sorry for or make amends for, but that in this specific issue, we can’t dismiss accountability for the purpose of unity the way that some seem to think we should.

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