Pope: Christianity more than doctrine, it is belonging to God's people

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christianity is not a set of moral principles, but is the story of God’s love for his people, Pope Francis said.

However, Christian men and women must not confuse that sense of belonging with an “elitist” attitude that views others as inferior to them, the pope said in his homily May 7 during his early morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Without “this awareness of belonging to a people, we will become ‘ideological Christians,’ with a little document of affirmation of truth, with an ethic, with a morality — which is fine — or with an elitism,” he said.

However, he added, “if we are not aware of this belonging to a people, we are not true Christians.”

At the start of his livestreamed Mass, the pope said he received a letter from a group of artists who thanked him for his prayers for them during Mass at the end of April.

“Let us pray once again for the artists,” the pope said. “I ask the Lord to bless them because artists make us understand what beauty is and without beauty the Gospel cannot be understood.”

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which Paul preaches at the synagogue about Jesus by recounting the history of salvation, beginning with the Israel’s exodus out of Egypt.

In choosing to begin his preaching of the faith in this way, the pope explained, Paul emphasizes that Christianity is not just a doctrine, but “a history that carries this doctrine, which is God’s promise, God’s covenant, of being elected by God.”

The pope also warned that elitism, especially in the church, “hurts us so much” and causes Christians to “lose that sense of belonging to God’s chosen people.”

“Christianity is not only an ethic. Yes, of course, it has moral principles, but one is not a Christian only with an ethical viewpoint,” he said. “It’s more than that. Christianity is not an ‘elite’ group of people chosen for the truth.”

Despite being “a sinful people,” he added that true Christians carry “the scent of being a chosen people.”

“A self-proclaimed Christian who does not have this scent is not a true Christian,” Pope Francis said.

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