I. Mystery of Reconciliation in the History of the Church
1. The Father has shown forth his mercy by reconciling the world to himself in
Christ and by making peace for all things on earth and in heaven by the blood of
Christ on the cross.  The Son of God made
man lived among us in order to free us from the slavery of sin
 and to call us out of darkness into his
wonderful light.  He therefore began his
work on earth by preaching repentance and saying: "Repent and believe the
Gospel" (Mk 1:15).
This invitation to repentance, which had often been sounded by the prophets,
prepared people's hearts for the coming of the kingdom of God through the voice
of John the Baptist, who came "preaching a baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins" (Mk 1:4).
Jesus, however, not only exhorted people to repentance so that they would
abandon their sins and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord,
 but welcoming sinners, he actually
reconciled them with the Father. 
Moreover, he healed the sick in order to offer a sign of his power to forgive
sin.  Finally, he himself died for our
sins and rose again for our justification. 
Therefore, on the night he was betrayed and began his saving passion,
 he instituted the sacrifice of the New
Covenant in his blood for the forgiveness of sins.
 After his resurrection he sent the Holy
Spirit upon the apostles, empowering them to forgive or retain sins
 and sending them forth to all peoples
to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins in his name.
The Lord said to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of
heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you
loose on earth will be loosed also in heaven" (Mt 16:19). In obedience to
this command, on the day of Pentecost Peter preached the forgiveness of sins by
baptism: "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).
 Since then the Church has never failed to
call people from sin to conversion and through the celebration of penance to
show the victory of Christ over sin.
2. This victory is first brought to light in baptism where our fallen nature
is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin may be destroyed and we may no
longer be slaves to sin, but rise with Christ and live for God.
 For this reason the Church proclaims
its faith in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins."
In the sacrifice of the Mass the passion of Christ is again made present; his
body given for us and his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins are offered to
God again by the Church for the salvation of the world. For in the eucharist
Christ is present and is offered as "the sacrifice which has made our
peace"  with God and in order that
"we may be brought together in unity"  by his Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, our Savior Jesus Christ, when he gave to his apostles and their
successors power to forgive sins, instituted in his Church the sacrament of
penance, Its purpose is that the faithful who fall into sin after baptism may be
reconciled with God through the restoration of grace.
 The Church "possesses both water
and tears: the water of baptism, the tears of penance."