Words like ‘Synodal’ and synod are gaining popularity among Christians worldwide. Synodal is derived from the Greek words syn’, ‘hodos’, which means ‘joining together’. The African axiom states succinctly that “if you want speed, go alone”; “if you want far, go together” is what Catholics wanted to do at the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. That was when Pope Paul VI declared that synodality would be the preferred way to be, walk, and work as the ‘Way of Christ, the Church.
While religious leaders and believers strive to live a wise life, marga, or ‘path, our human imperfections, short-sightedness, and selfishness do hinder not only progress but also steamroll those who are at the bottom of religious pyramids. We might not agree with their views, but they have the right to be heard and listened to.
Since his assumption of the papal office, Pope Francis set a shining example of synodality by travelling and engaging in dialogue with all Christian groups and religious leaders from other faiths. He even bent down to wash the feet and disciples’ feet. Preparations are already in place for a synod in October 2023.
Our walking together is fueled by three keywords: participation, communion, and mission. First, communion is about origins and identities. Communion results from us being God’s children and coming from the same divine source of life. No matter how religious we may be, communion stems from our shared origins. We become part of the drama of life by sharing our common home, Earth, and are keen to help all other people.
“Mission” is one of the most misunderstood words. It is simply a Latin word meaning ‘being sent’ or ‘going forward’. We are free people. We can destroy all and anyone who disagrees with us, or we can stay in our religious enclaves and listen to, learn, and love other people.
Synodal journeying is only possible if people can listen and learn. Pope Francis said: “A synodal congregation listens and realizes that listening is much more than hearing. It is mutual listening where everyone can learn from each other. The faithful people, bishops, and pope listen to one another and listen to God’s Spirit, which is the Spirit of Truth.
God’s Spirit cannot be contained to one creed only. Synodality is good for the Church, but it can also be beneficial to all people. We can’t help but reach out to others. Can we not reach deeper into our hearts to welcome more aliens on our God-gifted planet? We can only progress as pilgrims to eternal Purnam, Fulness, even if we let go of our ego and urge to subjugate and dominate others.
One step is required to make a journey of 1,000 miles. We can all journey together, building another world step by step. May God bless us all. A mother world that is more sensitive, tender, and caring to the cries from co-pilgrims on the synodal pathway.