Recently in the Catholic Commentator, (Jan. 8, 2016) scriptural references are presented to justify the current practice of disallowing reception of Eucharist by divorced and remarried individuals. The authors first cite St. Mark (10: 11-12). I decided to read for myself the entire section in that it deals with “marriage and divorce” (Mk 10:1-12).

As the authors suggest, Jesus verifies the law forbidding adultery. He references the creation story that from the beginning and clearly indicates ancient law forbids divorce.

So how does Jesus react when presented with a known case of adultery? According to the authors Jesus “saved the adulteress from stoning” while suggesting he did not “excuse her from the law against adultery.” Nowhere in the story does Jesus mention law. Only the pharisees and scribes do as they bring the accused to stand before Jesus. Perhaps, this understanding of the text is from the last words, “from now on do not sin anymore.”

However, reading the full text offers another understanding of Jesus’ response – one filled with mercy. “Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Jesus’ words, “sin no more” in the context of his actions and full dialogue are, therefore, an affirmation and encouragement, not simply requirement to obey law.

Many stories in the Gospels show Jesus willing to heal human brokenness and to mercifully forgive sinners. When taken in the full context of the Gospels, the stories of Jesus healing and forgiveness of others indicate his desire to call all, including those in most need of God’s mercy, so as to abundantly offer healing, mercy and forgiveness.

A Christian community is obliged to offer “welcome” to others in the same Christ-like spirit of generosity.

Frank S. Guillot

Baton Rouge