Meet, listen, discern: Francis kicks off the Synod

After participating in a moment of reflection as a prologue on Saturday in the Synod Hall with 300 participants from all over the world, Pope Francis presided this Sunday at Saint Peter’s Basilica the opening mass of the synodal route on synodality.

Cyprien Viet – Vatican City

“Often, the Gospels show us Jesus on the road, walking alongside man, listening to the questions that dwell and stir his heart”, explained Francis in his homily, commenting on the Gospel of the day, which tells of Jesus’ meeting with the rich young man. This story thus reveals that “God does not live in sanitized and peaceful places, far from reality, but that he walks with us and joins us where we are, on the often arduous paths of life”.

The Pope therefore invited each actor in the life of the Church, himself included, to ask himself whether he “Walk through history and share the challenges of humanity”, or if he lets himself be caught up by the temptations of withdrawal, routines, habits.

“To“ make a Synod ”means to walk on the same road, together. Let’s look at Jesus on the way, who meet first the rich man, then listen his questions, and finally helps him discern what it takes to have Eternal Life. “Francis therefore articulated his homily around these three verbs:”Meet, listen, discern“.

Availability to meet

First of all, therefore the meeting: by crossing the rich young man, “The Lord does not put himself at a distance, he does not show himself to be annoyed or disturbed; on the contrary, it stops with it. He is available to meet. Nothing leaves him indifferent, everything fascinates him. Meeting faces, meeting looks, sharing each other’s story: this is the closeness of Jesus ”, underlined the Pope, noting that “Jesus was in no hurry, he did not look at his watch! He was always at the service of the person who met him ”.

The stake of the Synod is therefore not “The organization of events”, or the “Theoretical reflection on problems”, but to cultivate “The art of meeting” by taking “the time to meet the Lord”, and by promoting the meeting between us. “Each meeting, as we know, requires openness, courage, availability to let oneself be challenged by the face and history of the other. Even if we sometimes prefer to shelter in formal relationships or wear a mask of circumstance, the meeting transforms us and often suggests new paths that we had not imagined taking. This is often how God shows us the way to go, getting us out of our tired routines. Everything changes when we are capable of real encounters with him and with each other. Without formalisms, without pretexts, without calculations ”, insisted Pope Francis.

The courage to listen with the heart

The Pope then insisted on the importance of listening that is not formal or superficial. Faced with the questions of the rich young man, Jesus “Does not give a ‘ritual’ answer, he does not offer a ready-made solution, he does not pretend to respond politely in order to get rid of him and continue on his way. He listens to her. Jesus is not afraid to listen with the heart, and not just with the ears ”, “When we listen with the heart, this is what happens: the other feels welcomed, not judged, free to tell their story and their spiritual journey.”

François therefore invited to question: “Do we allow people to express themselves, to walk in faith even if they have difficult life paths, to contribute to the life of the community without being prevented, rejected or judged?” The Pope recognized that listening “Learning to listen to one another – bishops, priests, religious and lay people – avoiding artificial and superficial responses is a slow exercise, which can be laborious”. But faced with the suffering of our contemporaries, François insisted that indifference is the worst attitude. “Let’s not soundproof our hearts, let’s not shield ourselves in our certainties. The certainties, very often, enclose us. Let’s listen ”, he hammered.

Discernment, to leave space for God

“Today’s Gospel shows us this: Jesus guesses that the man in front of him is good and religious, that he practices the commandments, but he wants to lead him beyond the simple observance of the precepts. In dialogue, he helps him to discern ”, explained Francis, returning to this theme of discernment, central in Jesuit spirituality and in his pontificate. “He offers him to look deep within himself, in the light of the love with which he, Jesus, fixing his gaze on him, loves him, and to discern, in this light, what his heart really is. attached. He thus discovers that his good does not consist in adding other religious acts but, on the contrary, in emptying himself: to sell what occupies his heart to leave space for God. “

The Synod is therefore above all “A path of spiritual discernment, which takes place in adoration, in prayer, in contact with the Word of God”. It’s not “An” ecclesial convention, study colloquium or political congress, but an event of grace, a process of healing led by the Holy Spirit. In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did with the rich man of the Gospel, to empty us, to free us from what is worldly, and also from our closures and our repetitive pastoral models. He calls us to question ourselves on what God wants to tell us at this time, and in which direction he wishes to lead us. ”

“May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel, open to the surprises of the Spirit. Let us not lose the opportunities for the grace of meeting, of reciprocal listening, of discernment. With the joy of knowing that while we seek the Lord, it is he, the first, who comes with love to meet us ”, concluded the Holy Father.

At the end of Mass, the Pope symbolically blessed several lay faithful from all over the world, representing the People of God, who will be directly involved in this two-year synodal journey. After this opening Mass in Rome, another launch celebration will be celebrated next weekend in all the dioceses of the world, the first rung of this Synod in an unprecedented format, in which all believers and all people of good will are invited to get involved.

Watch the whole mass

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