There has been a lot of talk about excommunication in the news lately. One story involved a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) who was excommunicated because of her “progressive” views. She was a head of a large movement of women within the Mormons that promoted such things as priesthood for women. (Ha! Thought WE were the only ones facing that challenge.) The news made it out to be a punishment for someone who has gone beyond the pale of what the Mormons were ready to accept. Her case will be reviewed in a year.
Pope Francis also was in the news recently for excommunicating members of the mob. For Catholics, excommunication is not to be seen as a punishment. It is a warning that person is acting in a manner or teaching something that put their soul and possibly the souls of those around them in danger. Excommunication is to be a last ditch effort to wake someone up – shock them back into the fold.
Today’s Gospel from Matthew says, “Not everyone who cries out Lord! Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father.” As a mobster you may go to Mass and confession, pray the rosary and grace before very meal, give huge amounts of money to the Church and charitable organization, and even teach your children the faith, but if you are stealing, murdering, distributing drugs, bribing officials and police, crying out “Lord! Lord!” will not get you into heaven. One must also act the part of a Christian. This excommunication is a wake up call.