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Advent in this Kairos moment of synod

Q: Archbishop J, what do you hope for this Advent?

I hope every Catholic would use this wonderful Advent season to engage their faith more deeply and benefit from the spiritual renewal it offers. This is the joyful season of waiting in hope. Through it, we prepare for Christ’s being born in our hearts in Christmas and every day of the year.

To understand the season more deeply, sign up to formed.org and see their amazing Advent collection of videos for adults and children.

Obedience to God

This Advent is special for us. We are on our synodal journey. We gathered as church and discerned a path forward for us. The path is Building Community, Inclusivity and Dialogue. This is a major theme that aligns nicely with the international movement of the synodal process which is now at the continental stage.

The document for this stage bears the title: ‘Enlarge the Space of Your Tent’, a reference to Isaiah 54:2 where God tells Israel: “Enlarge the space of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes”.

This is an invitation to make room for inclusivity, to broaden perspectives and world views and to enlarge both the vision and the territory we are asked to inhabit.

When I look at our process of discernment and the confirmation from the universal synod, I conclude we have received direction from the Lord. We must build community by stretching the space of our tent, which means fostering inclusivity. Dialogue is the method by which this goal is achieved. That is the point of the synodal way—active listening and engagement with as many as possible.

Every Catholic, every Catholic organisation, school, ministry group and family now need to see building community as God’s call to us, His Church. This is our top priority for the next two years—the key to becoming a synodal church.

Having discerned God’s Will, we need to make that first and use it as a focus for all our resources—time, talent, and treasure. Everything we do now needs to be done in a key of community building. This is a paradigm of Church, different to what we have been used. If this is God’s call at this time, we need to respond with extreme generosity.


Our Advent readings speak of the restoration of Israel after the exile. They also point to our ultimate restoration. The readings of the First Sunday of Advent were a significant cue, a profound key to interpret our theme. The First Reading (Isa 2:1–5) stated “all nations will stream to Jerusalem; people without number will come to it”. This is a picture of inclusivity at its most extreme. Here salvation is universal, received through all nations accepting the authority of God.

There is a very intriguing interconnection between being taught by God and walking in His paths. Says Isaiah, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord … that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Is 2:3).

By learning His ways, we will walk in His paths (read: synodal way). The outflow of this is peace flowing between nations and amongst peoples. The text says: “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Is 2:4).

Putting ourselves under God’s authority and law aligns all of us to living in harmony. The result is that we can turn our weapons of war into agricultural instruments and use them to build peace and civilisation. This is vital.

We cannot build community unless we are willing to put God first in all things. Building community begins with conversion of heart when we all seek God’s Will above our own. Then inclusivity and peace will follow.

What are the weapons of war to which we cling, the swords and spears we pull out at a moment’s notice?

Our tongue is a most destructive weapon of war. It can divide a community and wound many people when there is no understanding of its destructive power. To move the tongue to an instrument of peace requires conversion of heart, a transformation deep within us, as we surrender everything to God’s Will and choose to put God first. “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” this is the theme of Advent, deep interior conversion where God becomes all in all.

Kairos: a time to build

The Gospel shifts focus to our understanding of time. It says: “As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes” (Mt 24:37).

The implication is that people were doing their business not suspecting the importance of Noah’s building of the ark. The most important activity at that time was the construction of the ark and yet Noah’s contemporaries were deaf to God’s precepts, unable to hear His law in their hearts. They were closed to God.

The text continues that people were doing all the normal things until Noah went into the Ark—marrying, eating, drinking, liming—then the flood came and swept them away. The injunction is: “Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.”

There are two kinds of time. Chronos is the normal run of time in seconds, minutes, hours, etc—the passage of time. Kairos is different. It is the time when God is doing something, or the appropriate time for the thing.

In the days of Noah building the Ark was the thing that God was doing. Today, the Kairos is around building a synodal Church—building community and inclusivity through dialogue.

Staying awake, which is the Advent refrain, is about being attuned to what God is calling us to in this Kairos.

Let us all pray to God and ask for the grace to stay awake to His call and become docile to His voice and follow His precepts of love.


Key Message:

Advent is about hope in the face of challenges. This hope comes through obedience to God who calls us to restoration. To live hope, we need to stay awake!

Action Step:

Sign up to formed.org and look at their Advent content. Pray, asking God what concrete steps you might take to build community and inclusivity.

Scripture Reading:

Isaiah 2:1–5