Cardinal Raï at Mass: Synodal path helps us respond to global crises

Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, delivered the homily at daily Mass for Synod members, and urged Christians to imbibe a synodal way of living to confront the many issues that face our world. Members of the Synod General Assembly celebrated Mass together in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning of October 9, 2023, ahead of the presentation of the fourth General Congregation.

Patriarch Youssef Absi, the Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, presided over the Mass celebrated according to the Byzantine rite at the Altar of the Chair while Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, delivered the homily at the Mass, reflecting on Jesus’ invitation to pray for workers for God’s abundant harvest.

Patriarch Absi (center left) presides over the Byzantine rite Mass (Vatican Media)

Harvesting situations of suffering

In his homily, the Cardinal Patriarch noted that Jesus felt compassion for the large crowd which was following Him and so told His disciples: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Cardinal Raï said Jesus’ words offer a starting point to understand the current state of the Church and the challenges facing society.

He reflected first on the abundant harvest as a symbol of various pressing global issues that require attention and action from the Church and all Christians.

These issues, he said, include the pursuit of just peace amid ongoing wars, addressing climate change and protecting the environment, challenging exploitative economic systems, aiding persecuted individuals, and healing the wounds inflicted by various forms of abuse.

Cardinal Raï added that the harvest includes the need to promote human dignity, foster ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, care for the marginalized and vulnerable, and engage with contemporary societal challenges.

Laborers guided by the Spirit

The Maronite Patriarch of Antioch went on to consider the laborers who are called to gather the harvest.

Cardinal Raï said the Synod Instrumentum Laboris (working document) identifies these laborers as every person sent by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.

God’s Spirit, said Cardinal Raï, is the true “protagonist of the mission entrusted to the Church and thus of the entire synodal journey.”

Every laborer needs to receive formation and guidance from the Holy Spirit to embrace a synodal way of living.

Such training, he said, “involves formation for a life of communion, mission, and participation, as well as synodal spirituality at the heart of the Church’s renewal.”

Our mission to heal wounds of others

In conclusion, Cardinal Raï invited Christians to feel compassion, as Jesus did, for our world’s situations of suffering and the conditions in which people find themselves.

He said the suffering of the poor, discarded, refugees, innocent victims of wars, and the homeless all stir Christ’s compassion and should stir our own.

Christ, concluded Cardinal Raï, “has chosen each one of us to heal these wounds and strive for a better world, where we can inhabit our common home in peace and tranquility.”

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