Theologian Calls on Synod Delegates to Discern with the Eyes of Jesus

Theologian Calls on Synod Delegates to Discern with the Eyes of Jesus

Rush Urges Synod Delegates to Discern with the Eyes of Jesus

On Oct. 23, theologian Fr. Richard Rush addressed the members of the Synod of Bishops and Pope Francis before they reviewed a draft of a document summarizing their conversations over the past three weeks. The assembly will vote to approve the document on Saturday, shortly before it is expected to be publicly released.

Rush spoke about discernment, the process of seeking God’s will, and told the synod delegates that they should strive to see with the eyes of Jesus. He also warned them of “traps” where they could be “drawn into ways of thinking that are not ‘of God.’”

Traps in Discernment

Rush said that these traps could lie in being anchored exclusively in the past, or exclusively in the present, or not being open to the future fullness of divine truth to which the Spirit of truth is leading the Church.

He said that discerning the difference between opportunities and traps is the task of all the faithful — laity, bishops, and theologians alike.

Static vs. Dynamic Understandings of Tradition

Rush also spoke about a tension during the Second Vatican Council related to two approaches to tradition.

He said that Benedict XVI, then Father Joseph Ratzinger, was a theological consultant at Vatican II and wrote about “a ‘static’ understanding of tradition and a ‘dynamic’ understanding.”

Rush described the static understanding as legalistic, propositional, and ahistorical (i.e., relevant for all times and places), while the dynamic understanding is personalist, sacramental, and rooted in history, and therefore to be interpreted with a historical consciousness.

He said that the static understanding tends to focus on the past, while the dynamic understanding focuses on seeing the past being realized in the present, and yet open to a future yet to be revealed.

Growth in Insight into Tradition

Rush cited paragraph 8 of Dei Verbum, Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, and the apostles’ development of the tradition of the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit:

“There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on.”


Rush’s address to the synod delegates is a timely reminder of the importance of discernment in the Church’s life.

He urges them to see with the eyes of Jesus, to be aware of the traps that can lie in the path of discernment, and to be open to the future fullness of divine truth. His words are a valuable contribution to the synod’s deliberations.