How Well Do You Listen?

10 Jan

“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”  ~ Alan Alda

Today’s reading at Mass is the wonderful story of Samuel and Eli.  As you may remember, Eli was a great prophet and was the teacher of Samuel.  At the time he took Samuel under his care, God had been silent for many years.  Prophets were not used to hearing God.  They had almost forgotten how to act.

In the middle of the night, Samuel heard a voice say, “Samuel.  Samuel.”  Samuel assumed that it was his teacher calling and went to Eli, waking him as he declared, “Here I am.  You called for me.”  Eli responded that he had never called the youth.

This happened a few times before Eli had that “A ha!” moment.  When Samuel came to him again, Eli instructed him to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” the next time Samuel heard the voice.

Indeed, Samuel heard the voice again and, when he did, spoke the words Eli instructed him to say.  That opened up a lifetime of dialogue between God and Samuel.

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”  Too often, we do not spend the time trying to listen for God’s voice.  Instead of saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” we attempt to say, “You be quiet, Lord, while I speak.  I need you to listen to me.”

As Alan Alda says, it is when we listen that we have the opportunity to be changed by another, not when we speak.  When we speak, we have our own agenda in mind.  When we listen, we are open to the other.

When was the last time you did your best to listen for the Lord?

FAITH ACTION:  Create a good amount of quiet time today.  You might fill it with spiritual reading or soft, meditative music.  However, in the midst of all of that, make an effort to listen in case the Lord is trying to speak to you.