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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Ten (Ordinary Time)

The love of Christ urges us on.

Paul says, “One died for all; therefore, all have died.” This is the mystery of Baptism. When Jesus hung on the cross, we were in his body. Because he took us into his body with all of our sins, “he who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“For anyone who is in Christ, everything old has passed away.” When we died in Christ our sins were “taken away,” annihilated. We have no record of past sins. Through the death of Christ, “God has reconciled us to himself.” Completely. Totally. Even though we still have some work to do.

“Everything has become new!” Through rebirth, we have received life under a new set of terms. “Christ died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and rose again for them.”

“In Christ, there is a new creation.” We died in Christ and rose in Christ to let him continue in us, as his living body on earth, his mission as “Priest, Prophet, and King.” We were literally born to let him minister in us as “priests in the Priest.”

Through the resurrection of Jesus, “God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation… entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” We need to deliver the message.

If anyone doesn’t know Christ; if anyone has not experienced the new life of Christianity; if anyone is estranged from the Church; if anyone feels rejected, “God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.” We need to deliver the message.

If anyone is not receiving Communion, “God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.” We need to deliver the message.

In particular, we need to deliver it to those who think—or have been told—they cannot receive Communion because they are married, but not “married in the Church.”

Pope Francis has said in The Joy of Love, his promulgation of the results of the bishops’ Synod on family life (2016) that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are not excommunicated and must not be treated as if they were.

301. For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations [such as couples living together without being sacramentally married according to Church rules], one thing must always be taken into account… The Church possesses [and has for centuries] a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace… A person may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent values. Or one might be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently without further sin [for example, abandoning children or a partner who has given one years of love and support].

302. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly mentions factors [that “lessen or even extenuate moral culpability”] … For this reason, a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved. [Therefore, it does not automatically justify a judgment that the person is in ‘mortal sin” and should not receive Communion].

Francis does not come out and make a general ruling about whether those not “married in the Church” may or may not receive Communion. He calls on pastors (including archbishops) to refrain from this as well. Every case, every person, calls for individual treatment and discernment:

A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.”

Rather, “individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody [conform to] our understanding of marriage.”

Conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. Conscience can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal...

“God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.” We need to deliver the message, and especially to those who most need to hear it.

“We are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.”

Meditation: How many people do I know who do not receive Communion? What can I do about it?

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