“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3- first reading this Sunday)
Pope Francis said in a homily before he was elected pope: “God hears us. God, our Father, hears the cry of his people…He is not like the idols that have ears, but do not hear. He is not like the powerful who hear only what they want to hear. He hears everything, including the complaints and the anger of his children. He not only hears: he loves to listen! He loves to give us his attention and to hear about everything that is happening to us…He hears even our innermost thoughts. Today we come to pray for two special graces: the grace of “feeling heard” and the grace of “being ready to listen”…With Jesus, we want to learn to listen and to help our brothers and sisters.
Our Father hears our every cry of affliction, but he especially hears the cries of affliction that are the result of injustice, the injustice that is afflicted, so to speak, by the taskmasters of the pharaohs of this world. There is affliction, and there is sorrow. Wages that are withheld and the lack of employment are pains that cry out to heaven. The affliction that is the result of injustice cries out to heaven, because this is pain that can be avoided by being fair, by…favour to the needy, by creating jobs, by not stealing, by not lying, by not overcharging, by not taking advantage of people.
The Gospel passage on the Last Judgement (Matthew 25:31-46) also speaks to us about listening. The story of the separation of the sheep and goats is Jesus’ way of telling us that God has been attentive to mankind throughout history. He has been listening every time some poor, unfortunate individual has asked him for something. He has been listening every time a beggar has begged – albeit in a low voice that could hardly be heard- and every time one of his children has asked for help. Moreover, he will be judging us as to whether we have been attentive along with him. He will want to know if we have asked him to hear with his ears in order to know what our brothers and sisters are experiencing so we can help them, or if on the contrary, we have deafened our ears by putting on earphones so as not to hear anybody. He listens, and when he finds people whose ears are as attentive as his and who respond righteously, he blesses those people and gives them the gift of the kingdom of heaven.
Listening is a tremendous grace. We have to ask for the grace to learn to hear. To help people you first of all have to listen – listen to what is happening to them and to what they need. Let them talk and explain what they want. Don’t just look at them. Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Knowing how to listen is a tremendous grace. Indeed, our Father in heaven strongly recommends one thing, which is that we “listen to know Jesus, his Son” (Matt 17:5). Moreover, Jesus tells us that when we listen to our brothers and sisters, we listen to him…
Listening is not simply hearing. Listening is being attentive. Listening is the desire to understand, to value, to respect, and to save. We must find the means to listen attentively so that each person may speak, and so that we are aware of what each person wishes to say”
Open our ears, Lord, and teach us to LISTEN!!