A Life-giving Church

Tuesday Reflection from Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/tuesday-twenty-fourth-week-ordinary-time

How could we not smile a bit as we listened to the first reading about the qualifications of bishops and deacons?  I particularly enjoyed the part that said a bishop “should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited”.  I don’t recall that any of our RCIA catechumens had aspirations to be a bishop.  We’re so proud of our Deacon Tommy, however, who did go through RCIA and was later called to the deaconate.

Today’s reading is a good example of what the letter to Timothy is all about.  In essence, this letter was written to give good, practical advice to the leaders of the early church.  When it was written, around 90 A.D., the church was going through many changes.  It was growing rapidly, becoming more stable and structured.  The reality was the original leaders of that young church were dying and this growing church needed guidance for choosing future leadership.  It had to respond to new challenges, like:

  • What qualities should church leaders have?
  • How do they help the poor, or deal with those who promoted false teachings?

The early church was seriously trying to look at their unique situation and change to meet the needs of their time.  Our church has been doing that ever since, changing what needs to be changed to best convey the gospel message for the people of the time.  We are the Church, a living church, constantly growing, continually pursuing ways to live out Christ’s mission.

And soon our Spirit-driven living church will experience another growth spurt.  Next month on Oct. 4th, after 2 years of preparation and input from people all over the world, including our own listening sessions here at St. Margaret Mary, Pope Francis will commence the Synod on Synodality in Rome.  By all accounts, it will be like no other synod in Church history.

The theme for this momentous gathering is summed up in 3 words: “Communion, Participation, Mission”.  Our Pope called this synod because he wants to hear the voice of the entire people of God, young and old, those on the margins, those who may feel unwelcomed, or have wandered away. The hope is to make this way of engaging with one another how we are as a richly diverse Body of Christ.

For the first time, this Synod will not just be a representative number of Bishops from around the world but will also include delegates who are not bishops.  Nearly a third of the 364 voting delegates include laypeople, priests, consecrated women, and deacons.  Fifty-four of these voting members are women.[1]  All delegates will meet at round, not rectangular, tables to listen and discuss. They will not be separated by title, age, or whether they are lay or religious.  Truly, it will be a synod like no other.

As we look forward to this Synod gathering with great trust in the Holy Spirit, we can pray the Synod prayer.  The first 3 lines are these:

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.

[1] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254747/synod-on-synodality-vatican-publishes-full-list-of-participants