Pope Francis invited the faithful to walk with the Holy Spirit, “in trust and with joy” as he presided over Mass in St Peter’s Square for the Opening of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The Solemn Mass for the Opening of the Synod of Bishops began with a modern version of the traditional Laudes Regiae hymn, invoking God’s protection and blessing on the Church, on Pope Francis and the Bishops and the flock entrusted to him, and on civil leaders and all women and men.
In his homily, Pope Francis recalled a “difficult moment” in Jesus’ earthly ministry, recounted in the day’s Gospel. “In the moment of desolation,” the Pope said, “Jesus has a gaze capable of seeing beyond: He praises the wisdom of the Father and is able to discern the good that grows unseen, the seed of the Word welcomed by the simple, the light of the Kingdom of God that shows the way even in the night.”
At the beginning of the General Assembly, the Pope said, “we do not need purely natural vision, made up of human strategies, political calculations, or ideological battles.” Instead, he said, “We are here to walk together with the gaze of Jesus, Who blesses the Father and welcomes those who are weary and oppressed.”
He explained that Jesus invites the us to be a Church that contemplates God’s action and discern the present; “a Church that does not face today’s challenges and problems with a divisive and contentious spirit but, on the contrary, turns its eyes to God who is communion and, with awe and humility, blesses and adores him, recognizing him as its only Lord.”
Quoting Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said the “fundamental question” facing the Synod is “How can we communicate the reality” that God has spoken “to the people of today, so that it becomes salvation.”
Jesus, the Pope continued, “throughout His life” takes on the welcoming gaze of God the Father “toward the weakest, the suffering, and the discarded.”
“This welcoming gaze of Jesus also invites us to be a welcoming Church” calling us to an inner attitude that allows us “to encounter each other without fear,” the Pope said.
“In synodal dialogue, in this beautiful ‘journey in the Holy Spirit’ that we are making together as the People of God,” he continued, “we can grow in unity and friendship with the Lord in order to look at today’s challenges with his gaze”
Finally the Holy Father invited the People of God to follow in the footsteps of St Francis, the Saint of the day.
Recalling Jesus’ call to St Francis to “Go and repair my Church,” the Pope said, “The Synod serves to remind us of this: our Mother the church is always in need of purification”; and he invited the faithful to take up “only the weapons of the Gospel: humility and unity, prayer and charity.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis insisted once again that the Synod is “not a political gathering, but a convocation in the Spirit; not a polarized parliament, but a place of grace and communion.”
“The Holy Spirit,” he said, “often shatters our expectations to create something new that surpasses our predictions and negativity.” And so, the Pope said, “Let us open ourselves to Him, the protagonist, the Holy Spirit. And let us walk with Him, in trust and with joy:”