The Synod on Synodality draws closer and closer and the delegates are beginning to gather in Rome. I arrived yesterday morning, September 28 in order to have a few days to adjust to the new time zone before we officially begin our time together with the prayer service in St. Peter’s Square tomorrow (Saturday) evening. After the service, the delegates will load buses to head out of town for a three day retreat. We return at the end of the day, October 3 so we can officially kick off the Synod with Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica the morning of October 4.

These continue to be days of study and prayer. Today I am particularly mindful of the Lord’s presence. On this Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we hear in the Gospel of John of the moment Jesus met Nathaniel. In this encounter Jesus demonstrates the intimate knowledge he has of Nathaniel, and this applies for each one of us. Jesus knows us better than anyone. 

Nathaniel asks Jesus how he knows him. Jesus responds: “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathaniel is astonished at this and immediately recognizes as the Son of God. Now, how is that possible?! What was Nathaniel doing at that moment Jesus describes? More than likely he was praying. Perhaps in that prayer, Nathaniel was pouring out his heart to the Lord, while at the same time questioning if the Lord was truly there, truly listening, or cared at all? (Sound familiar to any of your experience?)

Thus, when Jesus tells Nathaniel he saw him in that moment, Nathaniel knew well the true identity of Jesus, for only God could have heard and seen what was revealed in that moment under the fig tree.

My friends, this is our God. This is Jesus. He is close, near, caring about every single detail of our lives. Psalm 37 says well how we are to trust in this loving and merciful God: “Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act, … Be still before the Lord and wait in patience;” 

This is my prayerful stance before the Lord and before the universal Church in anticipation of the Synod. The Lord knows well our needs. The Lord knows well how to provide for us in this moment in history. As He is near to us, may each of us continually draw near to Him, especially in the Eucharistic celebration, where He nourishes us with His own Body and Blood, making us into the faithful, holy People of God, capable of building up the kingdom of God in the world.

I wish to express sincere gratitude to all who have sent messages and assurances of prayers during the Synod. At the same time, please be assured of my ongoing prayers for all of you!