Did Listening To the Spirit Change People 2000 Years Ago?

by | Feb 16, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

We all know not listening changed the world. If not, grab your bible and read about Adam and Eve in Gen 2-3.

We all know that listening to God speaking through Moses forever changed the world of the Israelites. They also thanked God for listening to their cries. But their world blew up when they no longer listened to God or when they forgot that listening had consequences. Listening meant changing their way of thinking and acting.

This third Mindwalk along the path of “synodality” looks at how two acknowledged leaders from vastly different backgrounds drastically changed their way of thinking and behaving. It is about their complimentary conversions through listening to the spirit and each other. [The Preparatory Document #22-25]

(For the benefit of those just tuning in, see the summary of the first two paths I wandered in trying to understand the listening process to which Pope Francis is calling us all.)

Two very different leaders listen to the Spirit and each other


As a centurion, he was like an Army Ranger or Navy Seal today. He also commanded 100 highly trained mercenaries. He was also a kind of drill sergeant training these elites. For this, he earned at least 15 times or more their pay. And then there were the bribes from men who sought entrance or advancement.

He was also something of an exception.  A good man … “He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in Nor was he welcomed in a Mosaic culture!


We know more about Peter. He is portrayed as a rough and ready, impetuous fisherman. He was not above seeking to be ranked as the leader of the apostles. Jesus recognized his leadership potential. Of course, we also know he fled the scene when Jesus was on trial.

We also know that later, Peter had taken a good deal of flack for eating with the “unclean”.  This generated charges from the Mosaic traditionalists of his day. He “was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.  As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy.” Gal 2:13.

What they had in common

In separate visions, God arranged for them to meet. In that meeting, they both listened … and changed.

The Preparatory Document for the Synod reminds us…

… Cornelius begins by sharing his experience. Peter listens to him and then speaks, reporting in turn what has happened to him and testifying to the closeness of the Lord, who goes out to meet people individually to free them from what makes them prisoners of evil and mortifies humanity (cf. Acts 10:38).

Acts specifies…

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (Acts 10:46)

The Preparatory Document calls this

…a true and proper conversion, the painful and immensely fruitful passage of leaving one’s own cultural and religious categories: Peter accepts to eat with pagans the food he had always considered forbidden, recognizing it as an instrument of life and communion with God and with others.

Food for thought

Is listening to the Spirit a matter of winners and losers or a mutual call to change our limited ways of thinking.


(For me, the video series “The Chosen” is opening my eyes and ears to an “up close and personal” way of experiencing listening. Ordinary men and women hear Jesus. Those who listen were forever changed. Ordinary men and women heard Jesus. Those who listened were forever changed.

In the second Mindwalk, I basically used the words of the preparatory document for the two-year synodal process called for by Pope Francis. I stepped back to get a bird’s-eye view of the relationship of the key players. Jesus, the crowds, the disciple, and, oh yes, the “protagonist” we call the evil one!)

The entire series draws heavily from The Preparatory Document

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk


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