Listening is a vital part of any relationship, whether it is in a marriage, or in any type of friendship. If all we do is talk, without any listening, we will likely lose any friends we had. True and authentic love requires dialogue, a profound giving and receiving of the gift of ourselves.
This same principle can also be applied to the Church and our relationship with God. The Bible constantly reminds us to remain attentive to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). A synod presents us with a unique opportunity to listen to the Holy Spirit and discern how God is leading his people.
Pope Francis has reminded us of this principle throughout his pontificate, explaining in his apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate how discernment requires listening.
“We must remember that prayerful discernment must be born of a readiness to listen: to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways. Only if we are prepared to listen, do we have the freedom to set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas, our usual habits and ways of seeing things. In this way, we become truly open to accepting a call that can shatter our security, but lead us to a better life.”
God can speak to us in a number of ways, but it is important to point out that listening must not be isolated from the Gospel, as Pope Francis explains.
“[T]his attitude of listening entails obedience to the Gospel as the ultimate standard, but also to the Magisterium that guards it, as we seek to find in the treasury of the Church whatever is most fruitful for the ‘today’ of salvation.”
As the Synod on Synodality convenes, may we join in prayer and seek to hear the voice of God, deepening our love of God and neighbor, while remaining faithful to the Gospel and the truth that has been handed on to us from the apostles.
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)