The work of the Synod on the Family is more than a discussion of ideals or a show of intelligence, but a means of realizing the Lord's plan through the pastoral care of the family, said Pope Francis. He reflected on this topic during his homily for Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica to inaugurate the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization, which runs from Oct. 5-19. The bishops in this synod “are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard,” he said, stressing that “Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent…They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people.” In the case of this year's synod, Pope Francis added, “the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.” Turning to the day's readings, the Holy Father noted how both Isaiah and the Gospel “employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his 'dream', the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care!” “God’s 'dream' is his people,” the Pope continued. “He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.” In both readings, however, this “dream is thwarted,” Pope Francis said. Citing Isaiah, he noted that the vine had yielded “wild grapes,” and that God “expected justice but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but only a cry of distress.” “In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests,” he said. Addressing the parable to the “chief priests and the elders,” Pope Francis noted that God's “dream” had been entrusted to them “in a particular way,” “for them to nurture, tend and protect.” “This is the job of leaders: to nurture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.” The farmers of the parable took over the vineyard “out of greed and pride” to “do with it as they will,” the Pope said, and in so doing, prevented “God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.” “The temptation to greed is ever present,” Pope Francis said. “And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move” (cf. Mt 23:4). Noting that “we too can be tempted to 'take over' the vineyard,” he said that “God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants.” “We can 'thwart' God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by calling on the bishops in the synod “to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul says, by 'the peace of God which passes all understanding'” (Phil 4:7). In so doing, he said, “our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God” (cf. Mt 21:43).
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