“Listen and Respond.” If there ever were a pair of words to stir up action, these are the ones.
Listening: unclogging our ears and perking up our hearing to catch the first waves of what’s being spoken. Response: translating the listening into action. Isn’t so much of the dynamism of our faith caught up in the movement between this pair?
Here, listening is increased alertness to the movements of God’s Spirit both within us and around us.
Within us: what we are hearing and sensing when we pray. This is prayer as not just asking, but also listening. This is prayer life as a noticing, a receptivity, an alertness to the various impulses and feelings that come as we open to God’s presence.
Around us: being alert to the the needs of our neighbors, both close up and world wide. And especially when gathered as Church, heeding Jesus assurance, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am in I the midst of them.”
But then responding, letting the hearing translate into an impulse to do — or to refrain from doing. This is to follow the direction we’ve been sensing, turning that inner prompt into a response, putting flesh and energy on the resolve.
This listen-and-respond dynamic has operated all through the centuries. Sts. Vincent and Louise attuned themselves to the need to care for the poor and gave over their lives as response. Pope Francis heard a call to cherish the environment and so wrote his forceful encyclical, Laudato Si, encouraging us to safeguard the natural world for future generations.
The believers all around us who continue to listen and respond as, for instance, they heed Jesus’ words in Matthew’s 18th chapter to challenge a brother or sister doing wrong rather than just letting it pass.
All through our lives, The Lord Jesus is calling out in various voices and in sundry ways. May His Holy Spirit fill us with the energy and resolve to listen, and then follow through with our active response.