Most of us recall the familiar scene that opens each episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.” A whistling tune accompanies Andy and Opie as they amble along a dirt road, fishing poles in hand, sharing time together.
Have you ever wondered what might have been the topic of discussion on that leisurely walk? Maybe it was about landing a trophy-catch or Opie confiding in his “Pa” about worries at school or perhaps Andy recounting a favorite childhood memory with his own father.
In St. Luke’s Gospel, we read a familiar narrative of two disciples who journey together on the road to Emmaus, deep in dialogue with a “stranger.” What if those disciples had instead been too distracted in their own thoughts or simply dismissive of the stranger’s presence? Would they still have been able to proclaim of the risen Christ, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us?”
What do these two dissimilar accounts have in common? Each illustrates unique fruits that come from personal encounters while walking together.
The term synod is rooted in Greek and means “same road” or “journeying together.” Through the worldwide Synod on Synodality, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, invites all the baptized to listen to one another and to the Holy Spirit in discerning the will of God for how to accomplish the mission of the church in the third millennium.
The success of this synod hinges on the faithful participating, sharing and listening as the Holy Spirit speaks through those around us, particularly those whose experiences and stories are different from our own.
Praying, listening, dialoguing and discerning are central tenets in the synodal process as participants gather in small groups to share their diverse experiences, hopes and concerns for our church.
Opportunities in the Archdiocese of Louisville will include consultations within parishes, religious congregations, lay movements and associations, schools and universities, social outreach organizations, ecumenical movements and other groups. Pope Francis has spoken repeatedly on the importance of inviting participation from those on the margins and who often feel distanced from the church.
Between now and May, all are invited to participate in a listening session hosted at a parish or other local gathering in the archdiocese. These in-person consultations will be announced and promoted as dates and locations are confirmed.
Additionally, throughout the month of May, an online opportunity will be made available for personal feedback from those unable to attend an in-person listening session, however, the greatest opportunity and gift from this synodal process will be manifested in the conversations people have with one another.
Please watch for announcements in the coming weeks and months on how you can participate. You may also visit www.archlou.org/synod-2022 for updated information.
In this Synod on Synodality, we are blessed with an unprecedented opportunity to join our brothers and sisters in Christ on a shared journey of faith. Whether that journey leads us to a dirt road in Mayberry or along the road to Emmaus, if we are to truly journey together, none can be left behind.
Richard “Tink” Guthrie is the vice chancellor for the Archdiocese of Louisville and is the coordinator of the Synod on Synodality process in the Archdiocese of Louisville. He can be reached at email@example.com or 502-585-3291.