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Yesterday’s image was an “up close and personal” experience of the Word of God via the amazing two seasons of “The Chosen”.

Today I would like to present a bigger picture of the Word of God.

A Bird’s-eye view of the Word of God

The Preparatory Document for the two-year-long Synod presents the gospels as essentially about three actors (plus an antagonist.)

Jesus.

He takes the initiative, sowing the words and signs of the coming of the Kingdom without “showing partiality” (cf. Acts 10:34).

Jesus reaches out to the widest possible audience. The Gospels often refer to “the crowd”, that is, all the people who follow him along the path, and at times even pursue him in the hope of a sign and a word of salvation

The crowds

In a way that surprises and sometimes scandalizes the witnesses, Jesus engages with all those who emerge from the crowd:

  • he listens to the impassioned remonstrances of the Canaanite woman (cf. Mt 15:21–28), who cannot accept being excluded from the blessing he brings;
  • he allows himself to dialogue with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1–42), despite her condition as a socially and religiously compromised woman;
  • he solicits the free and grateful act of faith of the man born blind (cf. Jn 9), whom official religion had dismissed as outside the perimeter of grace.

The disciples

The third actor’s entrance on the scene occurs not thanks to a cure or a conversion, but because it coincides with Jesus’ call. The election of the apostles is not the privilege of an exclusive position of power and separation but the grace of an inclusive ministry of blessing and fellowship.

Thanks to the gift of the Spirit of the Risen Lord, they are to hold the place of Jesus, without replacing him; not to put filters on his presence, but to make it easy to encounter him.

Necessity of the whole cast

Jesus, the crowd in its diversity, the apostles. None of the three actors can leave the scene.

If Jesus is absent, and someone else takes his place, the Church then becomes a contract between the apostles and the crowd and whose dialogue will end up following the plot of the political game.

Without the apostles, authorized by Jesus and instructed by the Spirit, the relationship with the evangelical truth is broken, and the crowd, whether it accepts or rejects Jesus, remains exposed to a myth or an ideology about him.

Without the crowd, the apostles’ relationship with Jesus becomes corrupted into a sectarian and self-referential form of religion, and evangelization, which emanates from the direct self-revelation that God addresses personally to all, offering His salvation, loses its light.

The Antagonist

Then, there is the “extra” actor, the antagonist, who attempts to separate the other three.

The antagonist shows up in the forms of religious rigor, of moral injunction that presents itself as more demanding than that of Jesus, and of the seduction of worldly political wisdom that claims to be more effective than discernment of spirits.

In order to escape the deceptions of the “fourth actor,” continuous conversion is necessary. The story of the centurion Cornelius (cf. Acts 10), is the antecedent of that “Council” of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15). It constitutes a crucial reference point for a synodal Church.

The next Mindwalk will unpack this little-remembered story from the Acts of the Apostles. It serves as an example of what Pope Francis means by “synodality”, the word that confuses so many. It tells us what Francis hopes will happen.

(I encourage you to read paragraphs 16-21 of the Vatican’s Preparatory Document for the Synod)

Did this analysis of story line of the New Testament help you?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

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