Are you following the Synod on Synodality that is taking place in Rome right now from 4 to 29 October, 2023? Some people say that it could be the most important event in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965).
There are many parallels between today’s Gospel and the synod.
Matthew 22: 9 -10: “’Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
The present 2021 – 2024 Synodal Process encourages us to “enlarge the space of our tent” (Isaiah 54:2) so everyone can fit into the Catholic Church including refugees, the homeless, LGBTQ people, people in polygamous marriages, people with special needs, and others. All are invited. We are all walking together. We are inclusive.
Pope Francis’ September, 2023 prayer intention was “For people living on the margins.” The pope invited everyone to:
- Pray for and assist people living on the margins of society.
- Pay attention to people who face marginalization, even if it results from poverty, addictions, mental illness or disability. Specific examples: homeless people, street children washing car windshields, people with various disabilities.
- Offer a culture of welcoming, of providing shelter, of giving a home, of offering love, of giving human warmth.
- Help those living in subhuman living conditions.
- Welcoming is more than helping; it means putting the other person at our level.
Repite conmigo: Todos, todos, todos [Portuguese]. (“Repeat with me: Everyone, everyone, everyone.”), Pope Francis proclaimed this message to 1.5 million young people at World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal this past August, 2023. He later emphasized that the Catholic Church is open to everyone including “the sick, the elderly, the young, old, ugly, beautiful, good and bad.”
More equality to women is one of the main topics being discerned at this October, 2023 Synod. Listen to this story from Kenya called “We Women Are Equals and Have a Voice:”
Research indicates that 75% of the members of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) in Nairobi Archdiocese in Nairobi, Kenya are women. In interviews Catholic women have said: “In the hierarchical, clerical Catholic Church in Kenya we women feel at the bottom. We are second class. This is reinforced by our traditional African customs and traditions where we are also second class. But in our weekly SCCs when we sit around in a circle and share our reflections on the Gospel of the following Sunday we feel that we women are equals and have a voice.”
As a takeaway, the next time you are in your parish or in a faith sharing group or at a community center search out a visitor or a stranger and say: “Welcome. Feel at home.” This person is Jesus in our midst.
Maryknoll Father Joseph Healey, born in Detroit, Michigan, has served in East Africa since 1968. He is the author of many books, including several published by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers publishing house Orbis Books, and a well-known proponent of Small Christian Communities.
Featured image: Participants in the assembly of the Synod of Bishops walk on the ancient Via Appia in Rome as they make a pilgrimage to the catacombs and to the Basilica of St. Sebastian Oct. 12, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)