12 Franciscan Weeks of Peace: Week 3

October 17-23

The thought for this week is Active Listening. When we hear, we hear with just our ears. When we listen, we listen with the whole body — ears, eyes, heart, posture, mind — open and empty.

Many people wrongly assume that listening is a passive process of being silent while another person speaks. We may even believe that we are good listeners, but what we are often doing is listening selectively, making judgments about what is being said, and thinking of ways to end the conversation or redirect the conversation in ways more pleasing to ourselves.

So when [Joseph and Mary] did not find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem looking for him. Now so it was that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
[Luke 2:45-47]

The work of active listening takes place up in your head; requiring a disciplined effort to silence all the internal conversation while attempting to listen to another human being. It requires a sacrifice, an extension of oneself, to block out the noise and truly enter another person’s world — even for a few minutes. Active listening is attempting to see things as the speaker sees them and attempting to feel things as the speaker feels them. This identification with the speaker is referred to as empathy and requires a great deal of effort.

Our Lord Jesus was an active listener, just as his mother. It took great discipline to listen to the words of the angel Gabriel. Mary did not hear what she wanted to hear; she listened to the words, asked a clarifying question, then gave her fiat — her yes to God. You must truly listen to truly respond.

Psalm Fragment:
“Oh, that my people would listen to me,
That Israel would walk in my ways.”
[Ps 81:13 ]

Reflection Question:
When was the last time you sat down in quiet and listened to God speak in your heart?

This week:
Be mindful about listening to the conversations you are engaged in — without interrupting or distractions. Then, spend some quiet time actively listening to God in the Scriptures.

Prayer for the week:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has anointed me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

[Luke 4:18-19]

[Reprinted with the permission of Carolyn D. Townes OFS, National JPIC Coordinator]