Those who have been part of the synodal journey will know that Pope Francis calls us to “throw open the doors” and make the Church a welcoming home for all, writes Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB. Source: Perth Archdiocese.
According to one of our Australian biblical scholars, Fr Brendan Byrne SJ, this idea of welcome and open-hearted generosity lies at the centre of St Luke’s Gospel. He titles his commentary on this gospel “The Hospitality of God”.
It is Jesus who embodies this divine hospitality for all, especially the poorest and most needy. As his disciples, who are called to be Instruments of his peace, we are the ones through whom God wishes to extend the hand of friendship, of welcome, of compassion and of love.
The image of the Church as a home and as a place where everyone is welcome has often been on the lips of Pope Francis during the Synod on Synodality. He keeps insisting that all are welcome in the Church – “tutti, tutti, tutti” (everyone, everyone, everyone) he says over and over again. No one is excluded because he or she is a sinner, because in reality we are all sinners. Similarly, no one is excluded from the invitation to “repent and believe in the Good News” because we all have need of conversion.
The theme of conversion is emerging very strongly in the discussions during the Synod meetings. There is a growing realisation that any proposed changes to Church structures, and to the exercise of authority, will be fruitless unless these changes are accompanied by a conversion of heart.
As a community of faith, we are recognising more and more that any exercise of authority in the Church, whether it be by clergy, religious or laity, needs to be based on the example of Jesus, who described Himself as “meek and humble of heart”.
The gospels tell us that the people who encountered Jesus were amazed because he taught with authority – but what this means is that his words were matched by his actions. If some are wondering if the Synod will make any real difference in the Church, part of the answer will lie in the willingness of our leaders, both clerical and lay, to be challenged by the example of Jesus.
This is one of a series of columns Archbishop Costelloe, who is one of nine president-delegates for the Synod, is writing during the Synod’s first assembly this month.
Walking together: Archbishop Tim’s Weekly Thoughts on Reflection from the Synod (Perth Archdiocese)