Synodality and Bridle Bit Discipline

My Dad tells the story of his childhood donkey named Aaron. True to the saying, Aaron was stubborn and incredibly wild. Aaron was controlled primarily by placing a bridle and bit on his mouth. The bit is a metal bar that is placed behind the teeth, resting against the soft tissues in the back of the mouth. Each time Aaron’s wildness erupted the bit, which was controlled by a bridle operated by the reins, squeezed his tongue causing pain. 

The discipline of the tongue is needed by the People of God on the synodal journey. The tongue is an extraordinary gift of God to be used for communication and for initiating and nurturing relationships. On the synodal journey, communication with the tongue is vitally important. Depending on the quality of communication, the tongue can either enhance or break down relationships and community life.  

In chapter three of the Letter of James, the writer admits that the tongue is the most difficult part of the body to control. Therefore, anyone who can control his or her words control his or her entire body.  James utilizes the metaphor of the bridle as a means of controlling the body. The writer points to horses as an example of a powerful animal, and yet it can be controlled with a small piece of metal called the bit and leather straps. The power of the bit is not its size, but the effectiveness of its control.

On the synodal journey, there’s need to develop the discipline of the tongue, that is, learning the wisdom of what to communicate, how to communicate it, and the appropriate time to communicate. This is what I refer to as the BRIDLDE and BIT DISCIPLINE. It is the ongoing formation of learning to use the gift of speech to communicate with God and to affirm, uplift, challenge, teach, and care for each other on the synodal journey.  

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