This is the artwork I can see in the confessional when I am the one hearing the confessions. Sorry about the aspect ratio, but this was a quickie shot between confessions.
- I am happy to see Mary. She has interceded for the sorry lot that we are. She knows our need. I ask her to send penitents into the box. We are frequently late for Mass. I don’t think anyone minds at all.
- I am happy to be reminded by the crucifix what is going on with the absolution, “Father, forgive them!”
- I am happy, I must say, to keep my eyes peeled on Jesus the entire time, no matter what. Whoever it is that is confessing their sins with repentance, contrition and purpose of amendment doesn’t matter: it is Jesus who has already taken those sins on Himself and who has already accomplished the penance of our redemption.
In this particular painting it seems that Jesus is beckoning the priest hearing confessions to take His heart. And I’m going, like, um, Jesus… what? You want me to forgive penitents with your heart? That, of course, is absolutely the case. But there is more. And my hard heart is shattered to pieces, making room for His. You want me to forgive you with your heart? He who is sinless confesses our sins as if He committed them Himself. That’s what He’s doing at His circumcision. That’s what He’s doing at His Baptism. That’s what He’s doing on the Cross. What’s a confessor to do? Absolve the penitent with Jesus’ grace, knowing that, effectively, this is Jesus kneeling on the other side of the screen. I am thrown into humble reverence before Him. He loves us so very much. Just some thoughts I had while being unable not to keep my eyes peeled on Him, who is coming judge the living and the dead and world by fire, that fiery heart of His. Amen.