Pope Francis formally opened the Synod of Bishops on Sunday with a solemn Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
Faithful from around the world – including laymen and -women, priests, seminarians, women and men religious, cardinals and bishops – took part in the liturgy, which marked the beginning of a two-year synodal process.
In his homily Pope Francis took the day’s Gospel reading, recounting Jesus’ encounter with a rich young man, as the starting point for a reflection on synodality: “Celebrating a Synod,” he said, “means walking on the same road, together.”
Following the example of Jesus, he emphasized three verbs that characterize the Synod: encounter, listen, and discern.
Pope Francis that a true encounter only comes through listening to others, noting that Jesus listens not just with the ears, but with the heart. When we follow Jesus in listening with the heart, “people feel they are being heard, not judged; they feel free to recount their own experiences and their spiritual journey.”
The Pope invited us to ask ourselves if we are good at listening, if we allow others to express themselves. He said that the Holy Spirit is asking us to listen to the “questions, concerns, and hopes of every Church,” and to the challenges and changes presented by the world around us.”
“Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties,” he pleaded. Instead, “Let us listen to one another.”
Photo Pope Francis presides the Holy Mass for the opening of the Synodal Path in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican City, 10 October 2021. EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI