Building a Synodal Church

In building magnificent engineering structures such as bridges, skyscrapers, ocean liners, and bullet trains, human beings have learnt and applied some fundamental lessons. One such basic lesson is that development is a painstakingly slow-moving process devoid of shortcuts. Furthermore, the journey towards completion entails challenges that, once embraced, stimulate creativity and innovation. 

Throughout history we’ve had admiration for persons such as St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, St. Martin de Porres, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. Their lives are a testament to a Jamaican saying, “A swif mek wass-wass no gedder honey” (It is because of haste why wasps don’t gather honey).  In a word, be strategic, move deliberately and slowly, and not hastily, in life. Surely, this approach to life is contrary to the contemporary culture that’s characterized by individualism and the haste to abandon ship when there are challenges.

Building a synodal Church is slow growth that requires the engine of stability – an “inner energy that guides us up one hill after another in life” and gives us the “capacity for dealing with all the dimensions of life in an equitable and reasonable manner” (Joan Chittister, The Monastic Heart). It was stability or perseverance that enabled enslaved Africans to resist the evil actions of European conquerors for four centuries. They envisioned not only their own freedom but the freedom of their children and their children’s children. 

To grow a synodal Church we must dream of it and participate in the journey as we walk to fulfil the dream. Our participation ought to involve preparing the soil of hearts and minds to listen, dialogue and discern; planting the seeds of God’s word in the soil of hearts and minds; watering the soil with wisdom lessons of life; constantly weeding behavioural patterns and thinking contrary to Gospel values; pruning dead non-synodal (non-participatory and non-communal) ideological branches. 

The fruits of the synodal journey gradually appear because of a slow, painstaking journey, a journey that requires perseverance and patience. 

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