I was struck by the Pope’s address at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family – describing the experience as ‘a journey’, and he goes on ‘and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say ‘enough’. Other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of families… a journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others.. and since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were moments of desolation, tensions and temptations:
- to hostile inflexibility, certitude within the law, not wanting to be surprised by God
- to bind wounds without first treating them – the causes and roots
- to transform stones into bread to break the long painful fast
- to transform bread into a stone and cast it against the weak – unbearable burdens
- to come down off the cross to please people – not to stay with it, purifying it
- to think we are ‘masters’ rather than ‘guardians’ of the faith – tempted to neglect reality
Pope Francis concludes this passage describing the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the ‘fertile Mother’, the caring Teacher, ‘who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wounds’. ‘This is the Church… composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy.’
Questions for reflection? This address has caused me to ponder – perhaps you too. How does this approach speak into our RCIA process? What are the echoes? How do we allow for the journey we offer to be pastoral, with effective listening and discernment? Are we always open to being surprised by God, who is at work before, during and long after our journey with the catechumens?
In the second readings for All Saints yesterday, St John describes us as ‘children of God’. Karl Rahner says a child of God is an adult who approaches life with radical openness. Perhaps an increase in radical openness, as demonstrated by Pope Francis at the Synod, will help us be more humble and awestruck in equal measure, when we notice what God is doing through those who come seeking meaning and purpose in the Catholic Church, that yes, we are journeying side-by-side with them.