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Divorced Catholics.

During the reading of the Gospel on the third Sunday of Lent, I was struck by the story of the woman who came to a well to draw water (John 4:4-42). Christ speaks with her about her situation and reveals that he knows all about her marital life: "For you have had five husbands and the man you have now is not your husband."

The woman becomes a disciple-evangelist when she accepts Christ and brings Jesus to the people of Samaria. Christ used her to spread the good news, sinful as she was.

This Gospel narrative has a message for us today There are millions of Catholics who live in an irregular situation (second marriage) and who need Christ in the Eucharist, but they are considered in sin. Church discipline brands them as sinners and forbids them from receiving Communion.

How does mercy supersede legality? This is not right nor is it Christian, particularly for those who remarried for reasons known sometimes only to God and whose first marriage might well have been valid but who now long for the strength that comes from the reception of the Eucharist in their present situation, sinful as it may be. They need the strength that comes from the eucharistic Christ. Mercy supersedes legality (see Amoris Laetitia of Pope Francis).

The woman at the well is the patron saint and exemplar for all those hurt-filled Catholics who long for Christ. Christ called and revealed himself to the woman at the well; he now calls imperfectly situated Catholics to the strength and love of the Eucharist so they, too, may become evangelists of the good news in their lives.

Peter J. Riga


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Author:Riga, Peter J.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 21, 2017
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