The sad truth is that most of the time the Synods of the Church come and go with little notice by most of the world, including most Catholics. More often than not, after the Synod, the Pope will issue some sort of Post-Synodal Exhortation which will be read by theologians, seminarians, and some priests.
There will certainly be media coverage of the event, this being a synod called by Pope Francis, but more than likely they will only be looking for the sensational or cotroversial. Over these next three weeks as the Synod progresses I hope to underscore some of the themes the Holy Father hopes to address with his brother bishops. I will tend to quote the Pope from the Spanish versions of the text because that is the language in which he thinks.
In the homily for the opening mass yesterday, he began with a reflection on a fundamental human experience identified in Adam in the reading of the Day from Genesis, which he called (la drama de la soleded) "the drama of loneliness". He sees a paradox in our modern society. The more globalized we become, the more technologically advanced we are, the more means of communication we have, the more isolated we are. And the more "advanced" the society, the worse the problem. He calls us to pay attention to a variety of groups of abandoned persons from the elderly to those who have been abandoned by their spouses, to the youth in a culture of (usar y tirar) "use and throw away."
He calls us to take time to reflect on the paradox that we have "so much power accompanied by so much loneliness and vulnerability."
As Americans we can tend to see everything through the lens of our current political debates. But the Holy Father reminds us that this synod begins with the most fundamental truth about all human beings, that we are created to be in relationship, to love and be loved. He reminds us that it is about all those people who feel alone, and asking the question how we as a Church can better respond to that experience. The first step of course is to open our eyes to see it, to see them, the people right around us who are experiencing loneliness in all of its many forms.
Today let us pray for the lonely, but more than simply pray let us reach out and be the instrument of God's love for them. In most cases we won't have to reach very far.