The Synod in Rome
And so it begins. On Monday hundreds of Bishops from every corner of the globe together with other members of the Church will gather in Rome to spend the next four weeks discussing and meditating on the centrality of the family to the task of evangelisation. After all the speculation and rumour what should our expectations be? Are we right to hope that the Synod will deliver something special, or will our hopes be left dangling somewhere between disappointment for an opportunity lost and sadness of an opportunity thrown away? Will the Bishops be bold and innovative in finding new ways to deliver the message of the gospel, or will they look to re-emphasise the soundness and goodness of the traditional teaching of the Church? The chances are that a bit of both will emerge. It is of course difficult to say. The Church at the Synod will speak in global terms to us of its task to proclaim Christ to all people, whereas we know that it is what takes place at the local level, within our own communities and parishes, that the real work of evangelising is achieved.
And this is our task. As a community and as a parish we have waited a long time for the chance to put into action the work of expressing the gospel, and we pray that now with the new development underway, we will have the means to make a reality of what we have been striving for over these past years. The challenge is therefore just beginning, but the message of the Synod will I hope reinforce our desire to make it happen. I believe that the Synod will provide us with much impetus and hope that what we are looking to achieve will be of value in bringing the witness of love that the Gospel radiates, into peoples’ lives.
As we read the Scripture for this week our minds reflect on what is quite possibly the saddest thing that can happen to two people who had thought that their life together as husband and wife was set on an pathway that would end with till death us do part. The fact of marital breakdown is a terrible one which produces much sadness and despair and one of the tasks of the Synod is to seek ways in which couples can be nurtured and helped in ways which look to avoid the heartbreak of divorce. This task is one of great ambition and sadly may not be achievable in spite of every best endeavour and the question then to be asked is what is the next step for the couple, because it is two people who are involved and their lives still have to be lived. Divorce is often accompanied by some harsh realities that leave scars and wounds which can take years to heal. Families themselves become embittered and left with a sense of loss, and of course children are often bewildered by the whole thing. Can the Synod effect a way of looking to draw a conclusion that still upholds the teaching of Jesus on marriage and divorce and yet at the same time allows the unfolding of the mystery of redemption for the said couple whose lives have been so torn apart to remain real for them? Can there be a pathway which enables them to put aside their differences and asks them to walk together a penitential road along which an exploration of sorrow for wrongs done and an acknowledgement of hurt for wrongs suffered concludes with a heartfelt desire for mutual forgiveness and compassion and ultimately with the reception of the gift of God’s eternal love in the body and blood of his Son? Let us so pray.