Recently, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile scare swept the islands of Hawaii. Local News interviewed a Catholic Bishop because he performed the “rare rite of General Absolution.”
This is forgiveness experienced by Catholicadherents in the Sacrament of Penance. In layman’s terms, this is forgiveness of sins granted to a group by performing a Catholic ritual…
According to the Catholic Herald, this practice is fairly common. For example, rather than private confession and acts of penance (Catholic norm), a group prayer session is held periodically in which a Priest then grants them absolution in a New Jersey diocese.
Is this idea biblical?
Did Christ ever “absolve” large groups of their sins? No. We understand that, “…Each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12.)
The Jews thought Jesus was speaking against God, and asked, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7.) “When Jesus saw their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’”
What Jesus did next left them awestruck (Luke 5:23-26).
He proved His deity.
On March 29, 1979, Three Mile Island’s reactor was in danger of exploding. It would have been catastrophic. “The Catholic Bishop (the only one authorized to approve this within range) granted General Absolution to…every individual who would not have…private confession.”
Peter motivated the first congregation in Jerusalem, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” When they felt the catastrophic reality of their sin, it was clearly between them and God.
Jesus makes the point that it is easy to say, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” While Paul explains to the Philippians, “…just as you have always obeyed…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This is fear and trembling of the end. Who will grant you absolution?