God will be with us

    March 7, 2024

    The readings today make me think of a book I read in graduate school about active listening. I honestly don’t remember the title or the author. Its concept is about paying attention with one’s whole being and not just listening to another’s words. It involves looking for potential meaning behind words, body language and emotions, which can offer opportunities for growth and deepened relationships.
    The moments when I choose to actively listen are when connections and healing can begin. I say “choose,” because that is not something that always comes naturally. I think back on times when I did not actively listen and tended to be defensive or work on solutions. To actively listen is to put aside the need to “fix” the situation or the person.

    We must be fully present to the other person, “put ourselves” into the situation to understand their perspective, use physical cues and paraphrase what we hear to show that we are listening, and ask open-ended questions. In some cases, many people just want to share what they are feeling and need to vent. They do not necessarily want or need a fix.

    As a parish administrator, I am the go-to person for problems and complaints. In the busyness of my day, my inclination is to find a solution and move on to the next fire. I am inspired by people who have a natural tendency towards empathy and active listening. They are the best examples of who I strive to be.

    It is the same for all of us who work for the Church in some capacity. The people who come to us for assistance — whether at Catholic Charities, a parish or an affiliated organization — are looking not just for a handout but to be heard. Being aware of the whole person and being present to them is the way to bring the Spirit of God into the relationship.

    In Jeremiah, God says that if we listen to God’s voice, then God will be with us, and we shall prosper. When we actively listen to the voice of God, we are be able to bring healing to those we serve and in return build up the Kingdom of God.

    How do remind yourself to stop and listen and just be present to the person before you?

    Diane Zbasnik is the Parish Administrator for St. Austin Catholic Church and School in Austin, Texas.

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