On 10 October 2021, the Holy Father solemnly officiated the Synod of Bishop 2021-2023, with a Eucharistic celebration at the Basilica of St Peter, Vatican City. In his homily, he stressed on 3 key verbs – Encounter, Listen and Discern.
As we begin the “celebration of Synod” – which means – “walking on the same road together” with the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” The Holy Father desires the people of God, to “have a good journey together” and to journey as “pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit,” over the next 2 years. I would like to share a little insight on these 3 key verbs, before we get involved in the discussion on a Synodal Church in our Parish.
Encounter: Encountering God is an essential element of each Christian. Self-revelation of God is made known to us in various ways, particularly through the reading of the Sacred Scripture and Sacred Traditions, celebrating Jesus in the Sacraments and in all our daily activity. How have we been praying and reflecting God’s presence in the Word, Sacraments and Events. How has this encounter with God and with others changed our spiritual and personal life?
Listen: Studies have found that an average person can speak 125 words per minute and that most people have poor listening skills. An effective listener needs deep concentration in hearing and listening. We go through many hardships and trials in this life journey that leave us wondering – Does God listen to our cries and the cries of others. We realise His response is delayed.
We should not harden our hearts (cf. 95: 8) but instead, we need to allow ourselves to open our hearts and listen to His voice. In this process of being in communion with the Church, participating in the various ministries and taking part in the mission of Church, we need to soften our hearts and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to the cries of the people. Let’s listen to the challenges and changes that take place in our spiritual life and in the life of the Church. How can we be the hope of our Church in the future?
Discern: King Solomon asked God, “… give your servant a heart to understand how to govern your people, how to discern between good and evil…? (1 Kings 3: 9). Discernment is a special gift that comes from God. Before I joined the seminary, and during my eight years of study in the seminary, I was sent a few spiritual discernments in order to decide to be a priest. Even after being a priest, I continued my discernment so that I may be able to totally dedicate my ministry in serving God and His people.
God has given us various gifts and charisms in our ministries in the Church. Do we discern them? Do we utilise them for the mission of the Church and going forth, become missionary Disciples?
In this first level, the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur invites us to discuss, consult and answer the questions which have been given to us in order to draft a document for our Malaysian, Singapore and Brunei Bishops’ Conference. These three aspects – encountering, listening and discerning – will take place until April 2022.
Let’s together enter in prayer and engage ourselves in dialogue with God and with one another. The Holy Spirit invites us to take every step courageously, in order to grow in our journey together.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy