walking together

October 13

The Third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary:
Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

For most of Christian history kingdoms and empires have been seen as the highest form of human organisation. While a good king or emperor might provide care and security for all subjects, more often these earthly structures oppress those who have the greatest need.

Today monarchy is not considered to be a hands-on down-to-earth care for citizens, and as a result we can struggle with the concept of a heavenly kingdom.

While the word kingdom is used throughout the gospels, today the concept is so misused and foreign that it struggles to communicate the heart of what Jesus was bringing, or of what healthy humans are seeking.

Recent popes don’t speak much about kingdoms. Instead their language is new, fresh and relevant.

In July 2008 minutes before Pope Benedict left Sydney on his World Youth Day visit, he spoke of the Church (without mention of a kingdom) as “the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth”

Last year on the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis in his sermon did not mention the word kingdom, or even the title king. Instead he said:  “We were not created to dream about vacations or the weekend, but to make God’s dreams come true in this world. God made us capable of dreaming, so that we could embrace the beauty of life…Let us look to Jesus and ask him for the courage to choose what is best for us, to enable us to follow him in the way of love. And in this way to discover joy. To live, and not just get by.”

Without a doubt people two thousand years ago would have been delighted to hear Jesus proclaiming a new kind of kingdom, a concept still attractive a century ago when the English poet Cecil Spring Rice wrote of:

…another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Last weekend Pope Francis opened the two-year Synod process for the Catholic Church focussing on the importance of “walking together.”  The word used for this movement of hope is “synodality” and last weekend Francis opened a two-year synodal process for the Catholic Church.

You might appreciate his reflections from Saturday and Sunday.

Moment of Prayer beginning Synod Saturday 9 October 2021 (Full text with video at this link)

“I want to say again that the Synod is not a parliament or an opinion poll; the Synod is an ecclesial event and its protagonist is the Holy Spirit.  If the Spirit is not present, there will be no Synod.

“The Synod has three key words: communion, participation and mission

“That expression – “We have always done it that way” – is poison for the life of the Church.  Those who think this way, perhaps without even realising it, make the mistake of not taking seriously the times in which we are living.  The danger, in the end, is to apply old solutions to new problems.

“Let us keep going back to God’s own “style”, which is closeness, compassion and tender love.  God has always operated that way.  If we do not become this Church of closeness with attitudes of compassion and tender love, we will not be the Lord’s Church

Sunday 10 October 2021.  Homily (full text with video at this link)

“Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together.

“I would like to reflect on these three verbs that characterise the Synod…

The first is encounter.  … a question requires attention, time, willingness to encounter others and sensitivity to what troubles them.  The Lord is not stand aloof; he does not appear annoyed or disturbed.  Instead, he is completely present to this person.  He is open to encounter.  Nothing leaves Jesus indifferent; everything is of concern to him.  Encountering faces, meeting eyes, sharing each individual’s history.  That is the closeness that Jesus embodies.  He knows that someone’s life can be changed by a single encounter.  The Gospel is full of such encounters with Christ, encounters that uplift and bring healing.  Jesus did not hurry along, or keep looking at his watch to get the meeting over.  He was always at the service of the person he was with, listening to what he or she had to say.

The second verb is listen.  True encounter arises only from listening…He did not give a non-committal reply or offer a prepackaged solution; he did not pretend to respond politely, simply as a way of dismissing him and continuing on his way.  Jesus simply listens, for whatever amount of time it takes; he is not rushed.  Most importantly, he is not afraid to listen to him with his heart and not just with his ears.  Indeed, he does more than simply answer the rich man’s question; he lets him tell his story, to speak freely about himself.  Christ reminds him of the commandments, and the man starts to talk about his youth, to share his religious journey and his efforts to seek God.  This happens whenever we listen with the heart: people feel that they are being heard, not judged; they feel free to recount their own experiences and their spiritual journey.

Finally, discern.  Encounter and listening are not ends in themselves, leaving everything just as it was before.  On the contrary, whenever we enter into dialogue, we allow ourselves to be challenged, to advance on a journey.  And in the end, we are no longer the same; we are changed.

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You might find Bishop Robert Barron a helpful guide to praying these Luminous Mysteries at this link.

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Yesterday we recorded the Homily Studio for this weekend, a conversation based on the scripture readings for Sunday 17 October 2021. You can listen to the 20 minute conversation between Laurel Lanner, David Moxon, Kath Petrie and John O’Connor by clicking on the image below.

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3 Comments

  1. Amen

    Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing those powerful and thought provoking words from Pope Francis – the three verbs that characterise the Synod.
    Encounter, Listen and Discern.
    Reading and sharing your daily post is a life changing experience.
    ‘Walking on the same road together’ Thank you once again.

    Reply
  3. Thank you John for this inspiring and comprehensive reflection and for the hours of time and energy you will have expended in bringing it to us. Your creativity is greatly appreciated. God bless your ministry.

    Reply

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