As American bishops continue their discussions this week on whether pro-abortion politicians like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi should receive communion, they need look no further than 2 Maccabees 6: 18-31.
Eleazar was an old man who was highly respected for his Jewish faith and his adherence to halacha, Jewish law. One law forbade the eating of pork. The Greek King Antiochus IV tried to force Eleazar to eat pork, and when he refused, he was offered the option of eating kosher meat while pretending to eat pork. In this way, he would both satisfy the law and avoid death.
But Eleazar refused again.
The Bible tells us why:
“Eleazar made a decision worthy of his gray hair and advanced age. All his life he had lived in perfect obedience to God’s holy laws, so he replied, Kill me, here and now. Such deception is not worthy of a man of my years. Many young people would think that I had denied my faith after I was ninety years old. If I pretended to eat this meat, just to live a little while longer, it would bring shame and disgrace on me and lead many young people astray.”
Eleazar did the right thing. He knew that if others thought he was eating pork, they would think he was committing a sin to save his own life. They would then understand that rules can be bent and broken if the situation calls for it. If Eleazar ate the pork, or even pretended to, that would lead others to contemplate and commit sin.
The old man chose torture and death over scandal. Even to save his own life, he would not lead the young people astray.
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Let’s apply this issue of scandal to the discussions the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is having this week during their meetings in Baltimore. They will talk about a draft document on communion that, according to The Pillar, never mentions Biden by name but maintains that prominent Catholics – I’m looking at you, Biden, and you, Nancy Pelosi – have a “special responsibility to embody the Church.”
Biden’s radical support for abortion, for any reason, for all nine months and with taxpayer funding, clearly does not embody the Church.
It is not about mortal sin or the state of someone’s soul, which is not for us to judge.
It’s about scandal, which is clear for everyone to judge.
Even if a bishop says, “Come to Communion,” Biden should refrain anyway. Bishops, and others, can give as many reasons as they want to try to say it’s justified for him to receive, or for the priest to administer Communion to him. Even if we concluded (which I don’t) that they were right, the lesson of Eleazar remains. It’s not enough to justify one’s own actions. One must take into account how those actions, even if right, may scandalize others.
This teaching is repeated with crystal clarity by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, where he explains that it’s fine to eat meat sacrificed to idols (because an idol is nothing), but that if someone’s conscience is offended by your eating the meat, you should refrain from eating it.
Too many today have forgotten what scandal is.
Biden is on a crusade for more and more abortion. And he insists on receiving Communion publicly and claiming the Pope is OK with that. That’s a scandal. It’s a sign to young people, and all Catholics, that the teachings can be overlooked as long as there’s a good enough reason.
Of course, there is never a good enough reason to support the murder of our most innocent brothers and sisters, but Biden and his Democrats remain committed to ensuring the most radical expansion of abortion this nation has seen since Roe v. Wade. As he marches up the aisle in church to receive communion, he is saying to every other Catholic in the pews that it’s perfectly OK to openly violate a central teaching of our faith. Then there’s nothing to stop everyone else from following his bad example.
Biden – and all the other pro-abortion Catholics — have a choice to make, as do the priests and bishops who minister to them. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a page from Eleazar’s book.