Synod assemblies are not meant to be discussions to see who is the most intelligent, but to tend to the Lord’s vineyard and realize His loving plan for his people.
These were the words of Pope Francis today during his homily at the opening Mass of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: “The pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.”
Reflecting on today’s readings that included the parable of the workers in the vineyard, the Pope told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s basilica on Sunday that the Lord’s vineyard is his “dream,” the plan for his people which he “nurtures with all his love” so they can become a holy people and “bear abundant fruits of justice”. Vines, he said, are plants “which need much care!”
But the Holy Father noted that it is the “farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan” by failing to do their job and thinking “only of their own interests.”
In Jesus’ parable, the Pope said, the Lord addresses the chief priests and elders of the people, “in other words the ‘experts’, the managers,” – those whose job is to nurture the vineyard “with freedom, creativity and hard work.”
But Jesus says that out of “greed and pride”, they prefer to do their own will and so prevent God from realizing his dream for his people. “The temptation for greed is ever present,” the Pope warned. “And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move.”
“We too, in the Synod of Bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard,” the Pope continued. “Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people.
“In this case,” the Pope underlined, “the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.”
He said that each person can be tempted to “take over” the vineyard because of that greed: we can “thwart” God’s dream by failing to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit that “gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.”
“My brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul says, by ‘the peace of God which passes all understanding’,” the Pope concluded.
“In this way,” the Pope said, “our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God.”