It’s important to cultivate an attitude of listening with the heart to foster compassion for others.
What place does the attitude of “listening” occupy in our lives? Pope Francis, during his homily at the opening Mass for the Synod on Synodality, speaks to us of the encounter between the rich man and Jesus in the Gospel of Mark and tells us of the Lord, “Jesus is not afraid to listen to him with his heart and not just with his ears.” The rich man also listens to Jesus and takes his words to heart.
What is “listening with the heart”?
First of all, I think that it is a necessary attitude if we want to build healthy and sustainable human relationships, so it is not just that we listen to each other in this synodal process, but rather that we first listen to each other in our everyday lives. Listening with the heart is a type of listening to others where we seek to understand where the other person is coming from, their history, needs, and limits, without making any judgements.
Listening with the heart does not mean “agreeing,” but making room for the other person to express themselves and make themselves known. Nor does it mean allowing oneself to be hurt or harmed, since listening supposes that both the one who listens and the one who is speaking are placed in a reciprocal parity of respect and acceptance. Listening with the heart is trying to under-stand the other even in their silences.
We have not come into the world to judge others but to become brothers, companions on the journey. Listening with the heart promotes an attitude of compassion, seeing the other person for who they are as a child of God.
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