To help those in need, it is important to listen and work together. To do good in this world, often means to wait, listen, discern, and appropriately respond instead of simply reacting out of habit or with stale structures and processes. Our world is constantly changing, and the needs are greater than ever physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Natural disasters, political tensions, violence, and other key factors continue to threaten peace and security for so many and pushing irregular and dangerous patterns of migration.
While basic needs such as food, water, shelter, clothing and sanitation and healthcare should be a priority there are additional fundamental human needs. These needs appeal more to the human rights and dignity of each person such as safety, understanding, well-being, love, acceptance, esteem, identity, and self-determination.
Pope Francis has called for a two-year “Synod” process (2021-2023) where Bishops worldwide are called upon to consult within their own parish and inter se prior to the end of the period (2023). As he has noted “a synodal Church is a Church which listens”. This process calls for 3 key steps: encounter, listen and discern. It calls for us all, religious, and lay people, to walk in lockstep with the humanity around us. To listen to, not just hear, the voice of all individuals within the community, with empathy and sensibility even to our own prejudices.
How are we as listeners? Do we include voices of people different from us? Do we take the time to connect with those that have had significant challenges along their journey? Do we strive to learn and seek to understand or simply convert others to our way of thinking? When we engage in active listening and open dialogue, a positive transformation within our culture can truly take shape.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL