Early in a day, the sound of birdsong heralds a certain peace and calm. A pastoral scene arises, you can imagine a freshness in the air, yellow sunshine colouring the world, perhaps an occasional cool gentle breeze rustling leaves and whispering promises.
That sound of birdsong can inspire such images and ideas. While they may not be new images and ideas, thinking about them is a creative act, bringing them to the forefront of our thoughts. Likewise, today's readings are meant to inspire us, to fill us with a particular urge.
First we hear of Ezra preaching the way of God's salvation to the people. Not only proclaiming the Word of God, but also explaining and expounding it for the people so that they can understand it. This is similar to the proclamation of the Word of God, and the homily that follows in the Liturgy of the Word.
Similarly, Luke intends not just to present a record of events in his Gospel, but also to reveal certain aspects of those events, "so that you may realise the certainty of the teachings you have received."
What follows then can be described as Jesus' words of inspiration for his listeners, in order that they know what to know of him, to expect from him, and thus to know how to respond in kind. If you have any doubt about what that response was, look at the Responsorial Psalm. Be refreshed! Rejoice! Be enlightened! Always be mindful of God, for it is good and right to do so!
Today, the synodal process Pope Francis has committed us to is but an inspirative call for us to listen to the Holy Spirit through the lens of our individual lived experiences. I rarely use the word "individual" because it presumes a sense of isolation. Being human implies imperfection. We are never perfect in the ways we act, think or communicate with each other. Hence, our understanding of each other is imperfect — and in a way, what we experience is truly our own individual experience, with a sense of isolation, even though you might have experienced it in a group.
As Christians who have heard the Word of God, Paul understands such individualism, and redeems it by his analogy of all Christians being individual parts of the body of Christ. Though we are individuals with our own part in life, Christ unites us all, not leaving us alone and isolated, directing us, guiding us.
Sometimes, we fail to understand what is going on, simply because we have not listened to each other. Such a failure causes chaos. Imagine if the feet did not realise that the hands was about to reach for a glass of water, and decides to walk away. As the shepherd guiding his flock, Pope Francis realises this as he commits us to the synodal process.
Is the synodal process a town hall meeting where people just express their opinions and observations? No, it is a call to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, to listen to God, and urges you to share with others. It is a process of discernment. As individuals we don't have a perfect means to move together, unless through the intercession of the perfect one, God himself, through the Holy Spirit.
Let today's readings be an inspiration to you. Dream a little. "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." What does this urge you to do? Bring it up with Jesus, listen to him, and may you be inspired to live as Christians in a church journeying together for our mutual salvation.