Saturday, January 10, 2015

Distinguish the Corrupt from the Weak!

"There is Sin Which is Mortal" 1 John 5:16

Saint John in today's first reading enjoins the Church to distinguish between those whose sins are deadly from those whose sins are not deadly (i.e. distinguish the corrupt from the weak).

The corrupt are those intent on error and/or immorality. They are to be confronted, reprimanded, opposed, and cast out and avoided if they obstinately persist in their mortal sin; for they are with the devil. (Cf. Canon 915, the corrupt who persist publicly in their error are to be refused holy communion.)

The weak believer on the other hand should be helped, prayed with and for, counselled, forgiven, accompanied, because he is struggling but is intent on following Christ and His Church. (Cf. Canon 916, the weak who have fallen into mortal sin are to refrain from receiving communion on their own accord.)

Pope Francis puts it very well in his sermon at Casa Santa Marta.

Vatican City,  (

During his homily at Casa Santa Marta today, the Holy Father warned of those who pretend to be Christian while calling on the faithful to recognize themselves as sinners so as not to be corrupt.

Drawing from today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Pope Francis underlined Christ’s example in forgiving a repentant sinner. However, Jesus also gives a word of warning to those who are a cause of scandal. “What is the difference between sinning and scandalizing?” the Holy Father asked.

“The difference is that one who sins and repents, asks forgiveness, feels weak, feels like a son of God, humbles himself, and asks for salvation from Jesus. But the other who scandalizes, what is it that scandalizes? That he does not repent. He continues to sin, but pretends to be a Christian: the double life. And the double life of a Christian does much harm, so much harm. ‘But I am a benefactor of the Church! I put my hand in my pocket and I give to the Church.’ But with the other hand, he robs: the State, the poor...he steals. He is unjust. This is the double life. And this merits - says Jesus, not myself - that a millstone be placed around his neck and thrown to the sea. He does not speak of forgiveness here.”

The one who scandalizes deceives, he continued, and where there is deception, there is no Spirit of God. The Holy Father stated that such is the difference between one who is a sinner and one who is corrupt. One who is corrupt will continue to lead a double life while a repentant sinner will admit his weakness and will go to the Lord.

“And we should call ourselves sinners, yes, everyone, here!, we all are. Corrupt, no. One who is corrupt is fixed on a state of sufficiency, he does not know what is humility,” the Pope said. “Jesus, to these corrupt ones, says: ‘Their beauty is of ‘whitewashed sepulchres’, that appear beautiful, on the exterior, but within are full of dead bones and decay. And a Christian who boasts about being a Christian, but does not live the Christian life, is one of these corrupt ones.”

“We all know one person,” he continued, “who is in this situation and how much damage they do to the Church! Corrupt Christians, corrupt priests...How much harm they do to the Church! Because they do not live in the spirit of the Gospel, but in the spirit of worldliness.”

Pope Francis stressed to those present that entering into this worldliness can take one to live a double life, calling the life one who is corrupt as a “varnished decay.” Concluding his homily, the Holy Father noted the beauty of Christ’s example who called on his disciples to forgive those who are repentant.

“That is what [Jesus] does with sinners. He does not tire of forgiving, only on the condition of not living this double life, to go to Him repentant: ‘Forgive me, Lord, I am a sinner!’. ‘Go forward, go forward,: I know.’ And such is the Lord. Let us ask today the grace of the Holy Spirit that flees from every deception, let us ask the grace to recognize ourselves sinners: we are sinners. Sinners, yes. Corrupt, no.”
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