Synodal Preparation

Life is like a marathon race or a mountainous hike. It tests our spiritual, physical, emotional, and social competencies. There are overflowing and overwhelming surprises, creating disruption, dislocation, and disequilibrium, leaving us with bruises and scars – some visible, others invisible – and sometimes exiling us. 

We see and encounter the wounded soldiers of life returning from everyday war. They manifest socially deviant behaviour, acute and chronic mental illness, spiritual possessions, emotional scars, and physical wounds. It leaves some to cry out, “Life is a b***ch.”

If life is like a marathon race or a mountainous hike, isn’t there a wisdom lesson to garner from these disciplines? The mantra for hikers or marathon runners is “Success is 99% preparation.” They invest in strategic planning, disciplined schedules, securing experienced mentors, practices or test runs, research, consultations, simulations, and a community of support in anticipation of the battle. 

Our childhood years are meant to prepare and prime us for the hike or marathon of life. It’s not meant for frivolous and carefree living, sleeping in late, shielding us from hardships, or spoiling us. Why does the mother eagle feed her chicks, encourage them to aggressively flap their wings, and push them out of the nest? She must equip them for the harsh reality of life.

When persons fail miserably on the synodal journey of the Church, we intentionally or unintentionally condemn them to the margins of church and society because they embarrass and shame us.  As in life, the People of God need spiritual, communal, mental, and physical preparation to participate fully and ably in the synodal journey. The adequate formation allows participants to discern the Holy Spirit’s movement (spiritual), participate wholly in community life (communal), understand the nature and goal of the journey and its participants (intellectual), and manage the emotions (psychological) triggered by real raw human interactions.

As the Jamaican proverb says, “No wait till drum beat before you grine you axe.” Translation: “Do not wait until the drum beats before you grind your axe.” In a word, be prepared for all eventualities. 

He then went down with them. . . and lived under their [parents’] authority. . . And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men” (Luke 2:51-52).

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