The Eucharist Debate: What Would Jesus Do?

I want to discuss this issue with everyone here.

Would Jesus allow people in objective mortal sin take Communion as long as they are indeed in a state of sanctifying grace (due to subjective factors limiting their personal culpability) ?

My personal opinion, at the moment, is that He probably would allow them to take Communion. Here is one of the key passages that influence my opinion on this issue:

*"One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
-Mark 2:23-27*

In the above passage, we see Jesus responding to people who are very concerned with preserving the sanctity of the Sabbath - responding to men who were very devoted to making sure people followed the Laws of God according to a rigid and literal interpretation of them.

Jesus rebukes them for their unmerciful interpretation of the Law, pointing to a time when David broke the Law of God, eating consecrated bread that was only intended for the Priests. Christ is telling them that consecrated bread intended for Priests alone can be eaten by none-Priests as long as they sincerely in need of it. Although this may technically break the letter of the Law, the action is innocent according to The Lord.

Nearly every time the Pharisees argue with Jesus, it is because they think He should follow the Law in a much more strict, literal, legalistic manner. But nearly every time this happens, The Lord rebukes them for their unmerciful interpretation of the Law. Remember, the man was not made for Sabbath, but Sabbath for man.

So we see how The Lord Jesus Christ interprets the Laws of God. He does so with mercy, not according to the letter, but according to The Spirit. He rebukes those who turn the Laws of God into heavy burdens on sinners’ backs. He reminds us that God desires mercy, not sacrifice.

So if a person is in a subjective state of grace - The Holy Spirit is living inside them - what makes us think that Christ would deny them Communion? Is there any instance in Scripture where we see The Lord making such judgements against sinners who are sincerely trying to love and serve Him?

I think Jesus would confront and convict serious sin to His believers. He would expect us to confess and turn from sin, especially before receiving His sacrificial meal!

The story of David and the Bread of Presence was not about them eating in a state of unrepentant sin. And the Lord’s Supper was practiced after Jesus returned to His Father, so we don’t have examples of Him, personally, giving instructions. We do have His Apostle telling us to examine ourselves before eating, and eating “in a worthy manner”.

There is no “objective mortal sin.” There are objectively grave matters, which can be mortal if the subjective conditions are met. You’re asking if someone can be in mortal sin and not be in mortal sin at the same time. You can’t be in mortal sin and be in the state of grace at the same time. You could have committed a sin which constitutes grave matter, but which was not done in full knowledge or with free consent. At this point though, mortal sin has not occurred.


I’ll play the game. I don’t think Jesus would prevent the unworthy from taking communion, just as he did not prevent the Jews from handing him over to Pilate, or the centurions from scourging him, crowning him with thorns, and nailing him to the cross. I think he would ask them some serious thought provoking questions as he did to the woman at the well, and I think he would forgive them of their sins, hopefully, before they took communion.

The point is there is no point in taking communion when you are in a state of mortal sin. if you know you are in mortal sin, repent. When you receive in an unworthy manner, as St. Paul says, “Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.”

And what is “a worthy manner”? Is it a manner where some are excluded and some are included? Or might it be the exact opposite of that? Read His Apostle’s letters closer.

It is up to the Church to decide whether one is in a state of unrepentant sin. The first two words of your post are very telling. It makes no difference what we think. The Church’s business is the Church’s business. As lay people, we have a choice to either trust that the Holy Spirit is working through the Church, or not trust. If we choose not to trust, and decide that the Church needs our input in order to be aligned with God’s will, then a self-examination before receiving the Eucharist is certainly in order.

The state of grace is not subjective. You either have the divine life or your soul is spiritually dead. The whole setup you are presenting is wrong.

I assume by “objective Mortal sin” you mean something that would be a mortal sin if committed with full knowledge and consent. I assume by state of grace you mean the sin was not mortal due to subjective matters. I’m which case the person would have the guilt of venial sin or even none at all depending on subjective things, in which case they could receive. If venial sin was present receiving would remove it.

However, judging these subjective factors is difficult. If the person is aware that they have done something objectively grave, but aren’t sure how culpable they are, they should go to confession first (unless they are scrupulous… really individuals should consult with a confessor on these matters).

Only those who are in a state of serious sin, are to refrain. They are not “excluded”, but called to turn from sin, in order to “give proper thanks” for the grace of Jesus.

It is up to the Church to decide whether one is in a state of unrepentant sin. The first two words of your post are very telling. It makes no difference what we think. The Church’s business is the Church’s business. As lay people, we have a choice to either trust that the Holy Spirit is working through the Church, or not trust. If we choose not to trust, and decide that the Church needs our input in order to be aligned with God’s will, then a self-examination before receiving the Eucharist is certainly in order.

Yes. And we are all called to admonish one another.

1Tim 5
The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.

If you’re not sure whether you can receive Holy Communion, talk to your priest.

Read 1 Corinthians 10 - 11. Jesus never stopped anyone from receiving the Eucharist there. However, St. Paul says that they were receiving the Eucharist unworthily and this is why some have even got sick and died. So the Church’s rules about who can receive the Eucharist is for our benefit and not simply to preserve the sacredness of the Eucharist. To receive it unworthily says Paul is to put oneself at risk. And thus, to safeguard her children the Church must invite them to be reconciled if need be before the Eucharist is consumed.

you make a good point about Jesus not stopping people from receiving the Eucharist.

the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

did Christ ever recoil from coming in contact with sinners? No.

So while we must defend the Eucharist and treat it with the same respect and protection that we would offer the Lord Himself, for It is the Lord Himself, we should realize that Christ is not going to be harmed if some good-intentioned sinner comes up to take the Eucharist without being completely clean of all sin.

If a person truly believes they are in a state of grace, and if love for Christ compels them to want to go forward to receive the Eucharist, then it is my opinion that they should be allowed to do so. Period.

Jesus gave the Church authority to teach in his name. And to make disciples…and within that authority given by him is the authority to set discipline.


He who hears you hears me

I give you the keys…what you bind is bound…etc.

See my other posts in the other thread.

You mean he is did what is objectively is a mortal sin (grave sin, serious sin) but without the full knowledge and deliberate consent?

Yes that would mean he committed a venial sin subjectively. Which would not normally keep them from Holy Communion.

But if the matter is a “second” invalid marriage - well that brings* more* into the question. Then one has the further discipline of the Church that does not permit the person to receive Holy Communion (see the Catechism in the Marriage section for more).

And as Jesus gave authority to his Church …he who hears you hears me…what you bind is bound etc…

That is what Jesus *did *do.

On the other hand, the pharisees following Moses permitted divorce. But Jesus said that Moses permitted this because of the hardness of their hearts and probably to prevent wife-murder. Jesus did away with divorce and said ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery.’

So if Pope Francis were to say that in some cases, those in technically invalid marriages may receive Communion, we could trust his authority as the head of the Church, and trust that we would be hearing Jesus speaking through him, and would have no reason to oppose him or be confused?

I would think that yes he has the authority to make exceptions in the discipline in such rare cases exceptions- still seeking to safeguard from scandal etc (again one would be one would be discussing some rare case where for some reason there was not serious culpability - *no mortal *sin committed etc etc…not something a lay person like myself would be privy to. Rare cases are just that - odd cases not the norm).

Such is* not s*aying those in invalid second marriages (outside what is outlined in Pope John Pauls document and the CCC) - may received Holy Communion per se. They may not.

Such would be discussing a possible exception made in the *discipline *with careful discernment of very particular case etc. I would think rather rare unusual cases.

Such is my thought at the moment.

It seems to me there should be a distinction to make between Catholics and non-Catholics.

Leaving out the non-Catholics for the moment, Catholics are bound to follow what the Church teaches on the subject. And that is, if they are in the state of grace because they made a perfect act of contrition and not from confession, then before they may receive Communion, they must go to confession first before receiving Communion.

If a Catholic mistakenly believes that he is right and the church is wrong about a mortal sin that he has committed, then he must get that resolved with a good priest first.

If he thinks his first marriage was null and void, then he must get this resolved with the bishop first before receiving. The local bishop, or his appointee, is the one to advise on this, and noone else.

Now if we are talking about non-Catholic friend receiving, there is a separate rule applying to the Orthodox. They sometimes may and should be guided by the directions of the Catholic bishop on this.

If it is a Protestant friend who wishes to receive, then the answer is they may not for a twofold reason. One is that Communion represents a union with the members of the church. Communion is more that just receiving the body of Christ but also a union among the people who receive the one body of christ who share his values and faith as one. The second reason is that the question of being in the state of grace. There is no sure way of knowing this for anyone, but there is a way of being morally certain we are in the state of grace. And this certitude is established by knowing we have not committed a mortal sin since our last confession and Protestants do not have access to confession.

And by saying the above I do not intend to imply that a Prostestant friend is not in the state of grace because noone can safely say this. For Christ’s heart is large and loves everyone of us and as a Catholic I wish them only kindness and love.

the priest, who is your local representative of the Church,
which is, IS, Christ’s Body,
and so the Church is the expression of what Jesus would do.

It’s good to note that the very people surrounding Jesus’ earthly life directly heard and saw him, and still didn’t quite absorb what Jesus would do. :wink:

Jesus gave communion to Judas who had already resolved to betray Jesus.

Actually*…nothing in the Scriptures says such was the case.

He left and may have left rather prior to the institution of the Eucharist.

(and in any case as Jimmy Akin noted - if so - Jesus simply makes himself vulnerable to profanation - just as he did by allowing himself to be nailed to the cross…and he still does when people receive him sinfully today).

A resolution which he could have broken at any time. Judas did not actually sin until he did betray Jesus.

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