Currently the US Catholic Bishops Conference is struggling to draft a statement that would refuse communion to Catholics who are pro-abortion. No names mentioned, but everybody knows they have their Catholic President in mind who nevertheless insists he is pro-choice and not pro-abortion.
But whether or not Joe Biden should be barred from communion is not the point. I am instead taking issue with the power Catholic bishops have arrogated to themselves to decide who should and who should not receive communion. Besides violating freedom of conscience, it contradicts the whole purpose of Christ’s Incarnation.
Christ spoke many times about the purpose of his becoming a man, but these two sum it up: “I did not come for the healthy but for the sick,” “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” Christ came to heal those who are sick in body and soul. Christ came to comfort those burdened by feelings of guilt and remorse.
It is these people that need Christ more; yet ironically they are who Catholic bishops would refuse communion to. Contrary to Christ’s injunction “not to judge so you will not be judged” Catholic bishops judge these people to be unworthy of having Christ “under their roof.”
If you think it through, nobody is worthy to have God “under his/her roof.” Like I go to communion not because I am sinless but because I am struggling with my imperfections, fighting to overcome my sinfulness, and I need to have Christ “under my roof” to help me win the battle against my demons.
It is, therefore, every Christian’s right (not the bishops’) to decide that he/she wants Christ “under his/her roof” to give him/her strength of spirit to bear the burden of one’s weaknesses, imperfections, and sins.
I have probably told this story before but it bears repeating as it is illustrative of my point. Years ago, there was a family who attended my eight o-clock mass every Sunday without fail. But I noticed that only the two young daughters would receive communion. So one day I paid them a visit to ask why.
“We are living in sin, Father,” they chimed. They were separated from their original spouses and forbidden by Church law to receive communion.
I found it unlikely that Christ would bar them from communion for life. Hence, after being assured they were otherwise living a Christian family life, I told them to receive communion in some other church where nobody knows they are “living in sin.”
My point is this. In the gospels it is clearly Christ who invites himself into our life, knowing full well how unworthy we are. If bishops say we can’t let him in because we are sinners, then who can? Aren’t we sinners all? And didn’t he come for the sick and not the healthy?