It’s easier to play the short game!
Skipping a meal is a quick and easy event. Dieting is a harder process!
That’s something we all get… at least anyone who has tried to get in shape. It requires consistently making healthy choices about eating. Likewise, it is easy to go for an occasional walk. It is very different to build exercise into your lifestyle by using stairs instead of the elevator.
What’s the difference? Enjoying a meal or a walk are events. Making healthy food choices, choosing to use the stairs are processes.
The hardest part of a process is keeping it going. After you’ve exercised even for a few weeks, you no longer want to. So, you stop.
It’s the long game that counts!
The ecclesiastical version… documents or engagement
It’s been some 30 years that the church in the United States began to hear the necessity of conversion regarding clerical sex abuse. Other countries fooled themselves into thinking it was just “the American problem”.
This week France is the latest country to confront its own moment of reckoning. The “Sauve Report” has documented some 300,000 cases of abuse of minors over the last 70 years. After years of denial, they are where the United States found itself 20 years ago before the Dallas meeting of the Bishops.
But survivors remind us that documents are not enough. Documents are events that mark a beginning. They provide helpful guidelines. Documents are the beginning of a process of conversion. Without conversion, documents are the proverbial good intentions that pave the road to hell.
Increasingly many realize the necessity of a process of repentance. In its biblical sense “repentance” means “change your way of thinking”. It is much more than saying “I’m sorry”. It is changing your behavior. Because when you change your way of thinking you change your behavior.
There must be a focus on the long game! The long game is a process rather than an event or document
Pope Francis focuses on the long game.
Encyclicals are way easier than Synods!
A millennium, even in Church terms, is what we call the long game.
Just think of God’s “long game” – From the Garden of Eden… to the garden of Gethsemane. And then there was the struggle from a Chosen People with it 612 laws, to just two commandments summed up in the Eucharistic call to “wash one another’s feet” as Jesus had done. Finally, the realization when the followers of “the way” within Judaism woke up to the distinctness of being “Christians”. There was no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor freeman. And not even male nor female!
Today, Pope Francis is calling us to experience “Church as Communion, Participation and Mission” The three-year process of the Synod is definitely not a short game. It is the long game of
“disciples journeying together…companions on the journey are to be in mutual service to one another…people walking in history towards the fulfillment of the Kingdom…. Walking together with Christ in a new boldness of speech with humility of heart…a ‘journey of dialogue’ in which we learn how to recognize ‘the presence of Christ walking besides us’….
It will call for the systemic change of hard listening to one another.
It is not just one side that needs conversion!
Jesus could have handed out copies of his encyclicals – the Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes, the Our Father. Rather, he gave us his preaching as guides to understand the next stage of the journey of the Body of Christ through history. A continuing journey to discover the fulness of eternal life in God!
The synod is our catechumenate!
Are we, each of us, willing to learn something as we journey together?
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk