Benedict in France (III)

This morning the Pope celebrated an outdoor Mass before an estimated 200,000 people in the Esplanade des Invalides in Paris. Today's feast is that of the great Greek father of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom. Drawing upon the liturgical readings and the writings of the great Patriarch of Constantinople, the Pope said, in part:

Dear brothers and sisters, the question that todays liturgy places before us finds an answer in the liturgy itself, which we have inherited from our fathers in faith, and notably from Saint Paul himself (cf. 1 Cor 11:23). In his commentary on this text, Saint John Chrysostom observes that Saint Paul severely condemns idolatry, which is a grave fault, a scandal, a real plague (Homily 24 on the First Letter to the Corinthians, 1). He immediately adds that this radical condemnation of idolatry is never a personal condemnation of the idolater. In our judgments, we must never confuse the sin, which is unacceptable, with the sinner, the state of whose conscience we cannot judge and who, in any case, is always capable of conversion and forgiveness. Saint Paul makes an appeal to the reason of his readers, to the reason of every human being that powerful testimony to the presence of the Creator in the creature: I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say (1 Cor 10:15). Never does God, of whom the Apostle is an authorized witness here, ask man to sacrifice his reason! Reason never enters into real contradiction with faith! The one God Father, Son and Holy Spirit created our reason and gives us faith, proposing to our freedom that it be received as a precious gift. It is the worship of idols which diverts man from this perspective. Let us therefore ask God, who sees us and hears us, to help us purify ourselves from all idols, in order to arrive at the truth of our being, in order to arrive at the truth of his infinite being!

The rest of the homily may be found here.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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