By Fr. Roy Cimagala
ON the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, celebrated on November 9, we are reminded of that gospel episode where Christ visited a temple area and was angered to see it turned into a market place. (cfr. Jn 2,13-22)
He, of course, immediately drove the vendors away, even with a whip, and told them in no unclear terms, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
This gospel episode rings a most relevant if not a delicate note since at present, under Pope Francis’ mandate, the topic of synodality is taking center place in the minds of many people.
Synodality, of course, is an effort to hear, know and see what can be done in the different levels and aspects of the Church. It’s an effort to reach out to everyone in every level and sector of society, listening to each other, and moving together toward God, without confusing the distinctive character and mission of each one.
It’s a way of making the Church more organically vibrant, with all her members in the different levels and walks of life making an effort to relate themselves with each other. It’s like putting life to the social principles of the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity in the Church.
But it is not without its dangers either, foremost of which is the possibility of understanding it as a way for anyone to have his own idea of how the Church should be, or how the Church should be governed, etc. It can open a way of understanding it as some kind of democratizing the Church without anymore recognizing the supreme power of the Pope and the bishops in union with the Pope, especially in the area of faith and morals.
We have to be properly guarded against this danger, and the way to do synodality should be given a clear guide of how it should be properly done. In this regard, we need to be more conscious and skillful in our Christian duty to love the Church and the Pope. This cannot be taken for granted anymore, especially these days when the world is developing in a very rapid pace that often leaves behind our spiritual and religious responsibilities.
The Church is nothing other than the people of the God, gathered together at the cost of his own life on the cross by Christ. This is because we from the beginning are meant to be God’s people, members of his family, partakers of his divine life.
We have to understand that this gathering of the people of God is not achieved merely by some political, social or economic maneuverings. It is a gathering that is described as “communion,” where our heart and mind work in sync with the mind and will of God.
At the moment, the common understanding that many people have about the Church and their duty toward the Pope is far from perfect and functional. If ever there is such concern, it is limited to the sentimental or some mystical feelings that hardly have any external and, much less, internal effects.
We have to know the real nature of the Church, going beyond its historical and cultural character, or its visible aspect, because right now we need to do a lot of explaining, clarifying and defending the role of the Church in our life.