What happens in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is almost more than one could imagine. If we could meet Jesus today, we would expect to be received with love and compassion, because he is perfect and knows what it is to forgive. Instead, we confess to an ordinary human being who represents Jesus Christ sacramentally. We can expect the priest to receive us with love and care and compassion as well—not because he is sinless, but because he knows what it is to need forgiveness. God transforms even our human frailty into the medium of life-giving grace.
Jubilee 2000, A Year of the Lord's Favor:
A Reflection on Forgiveness and Reconciliation
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops