A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Over the line


The word summons images of shadowy clerics wields large crosses.

It recalls the medieval ritual of bishops and priests dramatically extinguishing candles by hurling them into the ground.

In fact, that ancient ritual invoked the action and the language of St. Paul in today's first reading (1 Corinthians 5:1-8)

I, for my part,
although absent in body but present in spirit,
have already, as if present,
pronounced judgment

on the one who has committed this deed,
in the name of our Lord Jesus:
when you have gathered together
and I am with you in spirit
with the power of the Lord Jesus,
you are to deliver this man to Satan
for the destruction of his flesh,
so that his spirit may be saved
on the day of the Lord.

Many people today sneer at the very idea of excommunication: depicting it as a dangerous manifestation of religion-based intolerance or even religion-inspired hate.

The dangers of religion-inspired hate, of course, loom menacingly large on this day: the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

But what St. Paul speaks of is neither hate nor murder: it is simply the drawing of a line and it is crossed by grieviously immoral actions.

It is a line not easily drawn, which is as it should be, for we are the servants of God “who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Some people do not want to draw the line at all: wishing not to hurt anyone's feelings and even trying to pretend that objective truth does not exist.

Others want to draw the line too quickly or too narrowly: wishing more to exalt themselves than to proclaim the fullness of Christ's truth or help bring other people to salvation.

The drawing of this line is a responsibility given by Christ to the Apostles and their successors: giving them the responsibility of a shepherd to bring lost sheep into the fold and to protect the flock from those who would steal and destroy.

For our part, we need to be lovingly clear about the truth and to do what we can to bring everyone – including ourselves – into a greater understanding and living out of the truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.