In his recent visit to Brazil for the celebration of World Youth Day, Pope Francis spoke to the Bishops and offered them a deep and thoughtful meditation on various aspects of their pastoral role and the life of the Church.
He said: "We need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey; a Church able to make sense of the 'night' contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realises that the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return. But we need to know how to interpret, with courage, the larger picture. Jesus warmed the hearts of the disciples of Emmaus."
First of all we need to allow Jesus to warm our hearts; we need to listen to him as he walks with us on our way. Then we need to have the courage, like the apostle Philip, to introduce to Jesus those closest to us, members of our families, friends and neighbours who have wandered away. He will use us as his instruments if we open ourselves to him. He will give us the courage if we ask him; he will give us the words if we turn to him.
Again, Pope Francis said to the Bishops, but to all of us as well:
"Let us recover the calm to be able to walk at the same pace as our pilgrims, keeping alongside them, remaining close to them, enabling them to speak of the disappointments present in their hearts and to let us address them."
May Home Mission Sunday this year , in this Year of Faith be a real opportunity for us all to do precisely this.
Rt Rev Terence Drainey
Bishop of Middlesbrough