The theme of the 2023 General Chapter reminds us of our experience of Communal Wisdom – we listen attentively to Jesus as he walks along with us. We listen because what he says resonates deeply with our experience, just as the two disciples on their way home to Emmaus encountered the risen Jesus amid their grief and sadness. He meets them, hears their story of loss, and quickly reminds them of the hope that they had known when their friend and master was alive. He was the fulfilment of so many dreams, the living promise of God: Emmanuel.

“Did not our hearts burn within us”, they said. Chapter is all about listening for this encounter with Jesus, who touches our hearts in such a way that we want to move with him; follow him. In Chapter we want to listen to that movement, not just as individuals, but communally. Chapter is a journey of Synodality. It begins with Communion. it calls us into Participation, and energised by this we are sent out into the Mission of making known the Reign of God. Communal Wisdom builds this Communion, this κοινωνία, by inviting us all into a deep listening for the Holy Spirit speaking within our own hearts and in the hearts of our confreres as we share together the fruits of our prayerful reflections on Chapter matters. The intimacy that develops from deep listening opens our hearts and minds, challenges us to think differently and more broadly. This is like a communal shift (Conversion) within us; away from the mal moderne of ego-systemic thinking and action (what I want) towards a corporate identity and willingness we may call eco-systemic thinking and action. The witness of prophetic dialogue (perhaps more prophetic listening) is powerful and cannot be understated. It is the energy that powers our engagement in God’s Mission as a Congregation.

Our starting place is to become aware of how our hearts burn within us when he speaks to us on the road.