Red abounded in the Church—from the decorative banners, vestments, and flowers to the people—many of whom also dressed in red. There was an excitement and anticipation that was palpable.
I thought about the readings and the awe those gathered in the Upper Room must have felt as the strong wind moved about the room and tongues of fire rested above their heads. Hearts transformed, charisms unleashed, movement to the streets and the Gospel proclaimed in the languages of the people that had been unknown to the disciples prior to the gifting. What an experience of the Reality and Power of God!
I smiled. Unless a miraculous healing occurred at Mass I would not be speaking today—I had laryngitis. I thought of how Zechariah had been silenced until the naming of his son, John the Baptist and how silence is a gift too.
Being able to listen is integral to evangelization. If we don’t listen to others, we become the resounding gong and clashing cymbal of which St. Paul writes (1Cor 13.1). Listening allows us to hear the other’s story and meet them where they are. If we don’t, evangelization would be as fruitful as putting a kindergartener in a college level calculus class and wondering why they didn’t grasp the material.
Listening is an art and I almost wonder if not also a charism. We all have ears to hear, but often wonder where the listening goes—in one ear and out the other? Perhaps to the head or the heart but not to both?
If I am honest, I have to admit that many times I listen but have caught myself forming opinions and responses before the other is even finished with what it is they have to say. That is judgment—intellectual listening without compassion in order to respond with an answer to fix or solve a problem.
When I listen with my heart first, I am compelled to hear another’s story with openness. Empathy and compassion are present and I am moved to respond in kind. The heart then engages the head and I can discern how best to console or connect with the other.
As the Holy Spirit lavishes charisms upon us all, we are invited to be open channels for these sacred gifts. Charisms are always received to be given away for the building up of another. Charisms are gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit to bring others into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Just as Mary gave her “yes” to the invitation of the Holy Spirit allowing Jesus to come into the world, we too are given the opportunity to give our “yes” and incarnate Jesus through our lives—so that others may come to know Him too.
Following the Feast of Pentecost let us continue to reflect on how that same Holy Spirit who once empowered those gathered in the Upper Room empowers us today. May our ears be opened. Whose voice is crying out? Where is the hand of God leading us to bring His Word? How can you be a vessel to incarnate the unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion of Jesus in our family, community, and world?
How is God inviting you to listen with a compassionate heart and respond to the needs of His People?