By Fr Joachim Robert
Theme: May They Be Completely One
On this 7th Sunday of Easter, the Gospel text that we have been given is of the oneness of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And the disciples continue to share in the mission that Jesus has entrusted to them. And as we enter into this second day of our Novena, the theme that we have is:-
Holy Spirit, teach us to love again.
And our focus has been Restoration, Hope, Prayer and Care.
And on this day as well, we celebrate the 56th World Day of Social Communications. And the letter that the Pope wrote was on the theme of “Listening.”
And as we reflect on our own theme as well – Holy Spirit, teach us to love again – and how do we love? It is by listening. And Pope Francis reminds us that the listening that we do, we need to listen with the ear of the heart.
Dear friends, in our world that we live in, we are often distracted with so many things of the world. There is so much of social media that we have been overloaded and confronted with. Information after information that continues to bombard us in every area of our lives. And the busyness that we find ourselves in makes us to be disconnected from the ways of God. Even though social communication connects us to one another, but very often we find ourselves disconnected because we do not listen.
And that is why Pope Francis calls us, bringing this timely reminder to tell educators, formators, parents, teachers, pastors, young, elderly, all of us, to rediscover this method of communication, which is to listen towards one another. And the listening, dear friends, comes with the listening of the heart because very often we hear one another, we communicate with one another but we did not listen with the heart. And if we listen with the heart, we must have this openness of heart and mind to be present to the people around us, be able to understand the situations and the struggles that they are facing or are confronted with.
And whenever we hear, dear friends, we must always have that feeling of goodwill for the other. Because we, dear friends, very often we prefer to hear but we refuse to listen. We may be present with one another, hearing but not listening because our listening comes from an interior deafness that we have. Because of so much of busyness that is all around us, we continue to put that listening aside and not be present to the people around us.
And whenever someone is communicating or speaking, we have already made pre-judgements already of what we want to say and how we want to rebut the arguments. We sometimes go with judgments, constructing our own ideas, already trying to see what we need to do in order to rebut them. Our own perception and our own experiences of life with others, especially with our children and family, makes us prejudice of what they are trying to say. And again, dear friends, we listen not with the heart but we just hear the sense of our ears.
And listening, dear friends, it must make us be present to the people around us because whenever we listen in the presence of one another, putting our handphones aside, putting our own prejudice aside, we must remember we must make them feel heard. I am not sure how many of you have felt being heard by someone, possibly in the family, possibly by your colleagues, possibly by the community.
How many of you feel misunderstood, feel you have not been heard? Anyone? But if you feel that you have not been heard, I invite you to do one thing. Take your hands and put them on your ear, both sides, and then bring it together and see what it means. You need to listen with the heart, dear friends. Listen with the heart of thanksgiving, listen with the heart that makes you to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal itself what you are saying and of what others are saying because it is important, dear friends, that we feel that we are being heard. Because whenever we feel we are being heard, then the dynamics of our whole relationship changes all together.
In the First Reading of today, we are reminded where Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed upon the heavens and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Here we see that Stephen was able to listen and see with his heart the glory of God that is present at that moment. However, the members of the Council stopped their ears from listening what he was saying. And very often, dear friends, we are like that. We refuse to listen to the others. We listen with prejudice in our hearts and we do not want to be present to the people around us. And today, we are invited to listen carefully in what God wants to reveal to us.
And if we are challenged, dear friends, if we are feeling unheard, I invite you to look at the cross and embrace what the Lord is speaking to you. Whenever we look and embrace the cross and listen to what the Lord is inviting us into, we come to the depths and we contemplate on the mystery of God’s love for us. God continues to speak and speak and speak and His ears reach down to hear us. But very often, we are like the members of the Council who refuse to listen.
And as a community, as friends, and as colleagues, we need to remember, dear friends, that we need to be present with one another in allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us how to listen again. And as we journey in this time of preparation towards our Feastday, a time that we restore our hope in one another, we restore our hope in caring for one another and praying for one another. And the first step that we need to do is to listen with openness, with understanding and feeling the goodwill of the other.
And let us pray, dear friends, that this time of preparation that we have take for ourselves, prepare our hearts in the upper room for the coming of the Holy Spirit, that our hearts may be healed. Our hearts be soften by the Holy Spirit to listen to each other in love and be present to one another so that our community will be filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit may bind us in love.
Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-