Selected Sunday Scriptures #43

Today’s first passage is from the First Letter to the Corinthians:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

(1 Cor 5:1-5)

This passage both angered, and saddened, me when I re-read it this week. You know that the Church is in a sad state indeed when it would be considered radical for a church community to actually excommunicate someone like this. And yet that is exactly what St. Paul commanded the church in Corinth to do. But it doesn’t happen at all, save perhaps in the most conservative of Protestant churches. I cannot say I’ve ever heard of the Catholic Church doing this in recent years. Or even the Orthodox Church (my Orthodox readers can correct me if I’m wrong about this). This disobedience on the part of the Church (and disobedience is exactly what it is) bears a large role in the present degeneration of the Bride of Christ. It is also only one of three reasons why I chose this passage today.

The second reason is the fact that it is an illicit union, an unlawful marriage, that drives St. Paul to command excommunication. It seems pretty clear to me, and my readers are well aware that I’m no biblical scholar, that unlawful marriages are cause enough to justify excommunication of a “believer.” Yet this never happens, despite the fact that there is no shortage of “believers” who presently belong to illicit unions in the church. Unlawful marriage is immoral, it is a serious, serious sin, and the Church does nothing (and for my Catholic readers, they should be aware that some Church leaders want to essentially say it is no big deal at all).

The third reason this passage grabbed by interest is because St. Paul commanded excommunication as an act of mercy. How else can you explain “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord?” By thrusting this person out of the Church, he would be outside of the protection of God’s grace. As a result, he would feel the full measure of Satan’s power. Yet this is not simply a punishment, but a means to help the transgressor find his way back to Christ. It seems to me that St. Paul is explaining that for grave sins like porneia, it is only when you experience the full measure of your guilt, when the weight of your sins crushes you, both in body (temporal consequences) and spirit (spiritual consequences), that you are able to truly repentant and find your way back to Christ.

That brings me to the second passage for today comes from Isaiah:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” And he said, “Go and say to this people:

‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.’
10 Make the mind of this people dull,
    and stop their ears,
    and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
    and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
    and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
    without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
    and the land is utterly desolate;
12 until the Lord sends everyone far away,
    and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
13 Even if a tenth part remain in it,
    it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak
    whose stump remains standing
    when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

(Isaiah 6:8-13)

Something that I think few Christians, or at least, those who claim to be Christians, grasp is just how much warning the people of Israel had of what would befall them. Time and time again they were warned by prophets, such as Isaiah, of the doom that awaited them. Yet only a handful ever listened. And that doom came and swept them all away. But despite this history, despite the warnings, the people of Israel continued to make the same errors over and over and over again.

Looking around me, I see that nothing has changed. The “faithful” of the Lord are seemingly oblivious to what is going on around them. And it is not like they don’t have any warning. We’ve been warned, time and time again, about what was happening and what is to come. Yet we don’t listen. We know and understand nothing, and shall reap the whirlwind before the end.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

6 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures #43

  1. Not only the faithful, but the gentiles. It was not the Israelites that were given the sign of Jonah rising from the depths, but the sinners of Nineveh.

    All deniable culpability is rapidly disappearing, the faithful should prepare

  2. mdavid

    it would be considered radical for a church community to actually excommunicate someone like this…But it doesn’t happen at all, save perhaps in the most conservative of Protestant churches. I cannot say I’ve ever heard of the Catholic Church doing this in recent years.

    I’ve never heard of anyone living with their father’s wife. His mother? Or his father’s new conquest? Like the Corinthians, even modern secular society frowns on that one…

    There is automatic excommunication for any Catholic who has an abortion (both mother & doc). That’s probably a quarter million excommunications per year in the US alone.

  3. @ Chad

    Re: Jonah

    It should be pointed out that the people of Nineveh repented at that instance. In this they showed more thoughtfulness than the Israelites.

  4. @ mdavid

    True, marrying one’s stepmother is pretty uncommon these days. But I chose that as an example of one type of unlawful marriage. There are other examples of unlawful marriages, including especially those where someone has divorced their spouse and “remarried.” In the eyes of God they are alike. And they are very, very common.

    There is automatic excommunication for any Catholic who has an abortion

    Is that part of Canon law?

  5. happyhen11

    One of the Catholic canons concerning this: Canon 1398: “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.” I am no expert but I assume from the Latin this means that the very act of procuring the abortion immediately excommunicates the person, no judicial sentence necessary.

    A good explanation of “excommunication” in Orthodoxy can be found here: http://www.stgeorgegoc.org/PastorsCornerExcommunication.html

    And yes, I have seen it in practice. As Fr. Rick says “However, it is not done for punishment sake. It is not done to embarrass or humiliate the penitent. It is done as a spiritual discipline to call the person to an awareness of their broken state of sin and motivate them to properly repent and reconcile to those trespassed against as well as reconcile to the Church.”

  6. @ Happyhen

    Thank you for sharing that. I’m glad, and not entirely surprised, to hear that the Orthodox church still keeps to Traditions in some instances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s