Pope launches 2-year synodal path with call to ‘encounter, listen, and discern’
By Catholic News Agency
Pope Francis formally launched the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 Synod on Synodality with a call to “look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.”
Preaching at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 10, the pope said that Catholics taking part in the synodal path should strive to “become experts in the art of encounter.”
“Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems, as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another,” he said.
“Time to devote to prayer and adoration — this prayer that we neglect so much: to adore, to make room for adoration — listening to what the Spirit wants to say to the Church.”
“Time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers, to let ourselves be enriched by the variety of charisms, vocations, and ministries.”
The live-streamed Mass, attended by around 3,000 people, was the second of two weekend events officially opening the two-year global consultation process.
The first was a “moment of reflection” on Oct. 9 featuring speeches from the pope, Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the synod’s relator general, and others.
The Vatican announced in May that the Synod on Synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.
A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.
The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.
In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 10:17-30, in which Jesus challenges the rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”
He said that the Gospels often showed Jesus in the midst of a journey, meeting people, and listening to their deepest concerns.
“Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves — all of us, pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity — whether we, the Christian community, embody this ‘style’ of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity,” he urged.
“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?”
“Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, together. Let us look at Jesus, who encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life.”
He said: “May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening, and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.”