In last month’s address to his diocese, Pope Francis elaborates on sensus fidei. First, we aren’t talking about a debate followed by voting. It is a human process, and in many ways a political one, in the sense of people coming together and discerning movements beneath the surface, beyond the obvious.
The exercise of the sensus fidei cannot be reduced to the communication and comparison of our own opinions on this or that issue, or a single aspect of the Church’s teaching or discipline. No, those are instruments, verbalizations, dogmatic or disciplinary statements.
Unlike a legislature, a synod must align with God’s practice of surprise and unexpected initiatives:
The idea of distinguishing between majorities and minorities must not prevail: that is what parliaments do. How many times have those who were “rejected” become “the cornerstone” (cf. Ps 118:22; Mt 21:42), while those who were “far away” have drawn “near” (Eph 2:13). The marginalized, the poor, the hopeless were chosen to be a sacrament of Christ (cf. Mt 25:31-46). The Church is like that. And whenever some groups wanted to stand out more, those groups always ended badly, even denying salvation, in heresies. We can think of the heresies that claimed to lead the Church forward, like Pelagianism, and then Jansenism. Every heresy ended badly.
Yet, some heresies persist, only in new clothing.
Gnosticism and Pelagianism are constant temptations for the Church. We are so rightly concerned for the dignity of our liturgical celebrations, but we can easily end up simply becoming complacent.
Listen to the golden mouth of the great Doctor from the East:
Saint John Chrysostom warns us: “Do you want to honor the body of Christ? Do not allow it to be despised in its members, that is, in the poor who lack clothes to cover themselves. Do not honor him here in the church with rich fabrics while outside you neglect him when he is suffering from cold and naked. The one who said, “this is my body”, confirming the fact with his word, also said, “you saw me hungry and you did not feed me” and, “whenever you failed to do these things to one of the least of these, you failed to do it to me” (Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, 50, 3). You may say to me: “Father, what do you mean? Are the poor, the beggars, young drug addicts, all those people that society discards, part of the Synod too?”
Rhetorical question? How would you answer? The easiest question of the day: how do you suppose the Holy Father is answering it?
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