Kerknet publishes the brief intervention given by Cardinal Godfried Danneels. It is one of the shortest I’ve come across, and does not speak about any of the hot topics at the Synod. Rather, the cardinal, whose suitability for attending the Synod has been questioned by some, speaks about the “home of mercy” in every person, where God’s Spirit dwells, and the “little shepherds” in His field.
Holy Father, brother and sisters in Christ,
My intervention is not theological, canonical or pastoral; it is spiritual.
In general, our western countries are prosperous; there is social policy and care for the poor; medical science makes great leaps forward and the medical care in hospitals is of high quality. Materially, much is done for spouses and families. For all these reasons, everyone, or at least almost everyone, in the west, should be happy. And yet!
Despite all these effort from society, the cry of the prophet resounds from the heart of every man: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord” (Psalm 130).
Day after day, all people keep asking the same two questions:
- Where will I find a place where I am truly listened to?
- Who will speak a liberating word on my behalf?
Luckily, deep in every man, in every woman, there is a hidden place where someone lives, someone who always listens and offers a saving word. It is the place where God lives; where His Spirit lives in us.
That place is called “the home of mercy”.
The Hebrew word for mercy (rahamin) does not know the word “heart”, but uses the word “womb” (uterus). For in that “womb of mercy” there is tenderness and security, which is even greater than marital intimacy. In God’s house, man is secure as in the womb. Man is at home there. There is true listening and speaking there. God lives in the “home of mercy”: He listens, speaks, heals and forgives with a mother’s tenderness. Even when her child’s situation is hopeless, a mother knows how to be a mother.
God lives there, as a shepherd, the great shepherd. But there are also “little shepherds”. The priests in the first place, but there are also many lay people who are shepherds. Is there a man or woman to whom no lamb is entrusted? The little shepherds are part of the house staff of the “home of mercy”. Thanks be given to all little shepherds – priests and laity – in God’s field.
Over the past months, thousands of people have sent questions, suggestions and wishes in preparation for this Synod. All of this comes from the heart. From that place, where there is truly being listened and deeply being spoken. It is the place where God lives: the “home of mercy”.
Thanks to all who have shared their concerns with us. Thanks also to the priests and all the other little shepherds.
+ Godfried Cardinal Danneels