The art of listening

| Deacon Ramon García | July 11, 2017 | 0 Comments


There is a story about a couple with marital difficulties who sought help. They were each given a flask with water in it and were told the water would keep them from arguing so much. Thrilled with the idea of the miraculous liquid, the couple asked how it worked. Imagine their surprise when they were told that the “miraculous” water worked because one person puts the liquid in his or her mouth while the other one talks, and the person cannot swallow the water until the other is finished talking. Then they reverse roles.

In my work with couples, I have come to realize that listening to others is a human quality that is difficult to have, one that not many people seek to possess, yet so important and necessary in getting along with others and in reaching the level of happiness that God wishes for us all.

We all know it’s not easy to listen to others with attention, interest, respect and affection. Yet, it is both a condition of real love and a fruit of real love. If we do not know how to listen to one another, the current of love and affection cannot circulate. By the same token, authentic love is demonstrated if there is mutual listening.

The word of God is, in itself, creative. It creates realities, it has power and gives life, and it can transform everyone who is open to it, even on rocky ground or among thorns. Conversely, the word of man can only express realities; it cannot create them. The word of God, through Jesus, comes to sow seeds in our hearts — seeds of the reality of happiness. This happens when we listen to our Lord and to each other. Our Lord shows us new horizons and new realities when we listen.

Many times, when we think about the parable of the sower, we insist that the most important part is that we should all be “rich soil” so that the seed that God sows in us can give abundant fruit, responding to the desire and hope of our father.

Without a doubt, this personal disposition of grabbing on to the word of God, the seed of life, with an open heart and removing obstacles is important. But let’s not forget that there is a step before that, according to Jesus: One who wants to first listen to the word of God is one who possesses an open heart; it is one who reads the word of God and says, “This is for me.”

When we don’t listen to each other, we miss the opportunity to be enriched with what we desire to receive most: to know and appreciate those around us. It is the same before God: We don’t know what we are missing when we don’t listen with attention, interest and love. If we don’t listen to him, we lose intimacy with him.

May we all “hold our water” to practice the difficult skill of listening.

Deacon García was ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2008 and serves at St. Stephen in Anoka, where he is the coordinator of Latino Ministry. A native of Mexico, he has called Minnesota home for the past 23 years.

Sunday, July 16
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


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Category: Sunday Scriptures