24 January 2022 | Message


Dear brothers and sisters,
Last year we reflected on the need to “Come and See” in order to discover reality
and be able to recount it beginning with experiencing events and meeting people.
Continuing in this vein, I would now like to draw attention to another word ,
“listen”, which is decisive in the grammar of communication and a condition for
genuine dialogue. […]
[…] The reality of forced migration is also a complex issue, and no one has a
ready-made prescription for solving it. I repeat that, in order to overcome
prejudices about migrants and to melt the hardness of our hearts, we should try to
listen to their stories. Give each of them a name and a story. Many good journalists
already do this. And many others would like to do it, if only they could. Let us
encourage them! Let us listen to these stories! Everyone would then be free to
support the migration policies they deem most appropriate for their own country.
But in any case, we would have before our eyes not numbers, not dangerous
invaders, but the faces and stories, gazes, expectations and sufferings of real men
and women to listen to.
Listening to one another in the Church
In the Church, too, there is a great need to listen to and to hear one another. It is
the most precious and life-giving gift we can offer each other. “Christians have
forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by him who is
himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with
the ears of God that we may speak the word of God”. Thus, the Protestant
theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that the first service we owe to others in
communion consists in listening to them. Whoever does not know how to listen to
his brother or sister will soon no longer be able to listen to God either.
The most important task in pastoral activity is the “apostolate of the ear” – to listen
before speaking, as the Apostle James exhorts: “Let every man be quick to hear,
slow to speak” (1:19). Freely giving some of our own time to listen to people is the
first act of charity.
A synodal process has just been launched. Let us pray that it will be a great
opportunity to listen to one another. Communion, in fact, is not the result of
strategies and programmes, but is built in mutual listening between brothers and
sisters. As in a choir, unity does not require uniformity, monotony, but the plurality
and variety of voices, polyphony. At the same time, each voice in the choir sings
while listening to the other voices and in relation to the harmony of the whole. This
harmony is conceived by the composer, but its realization depends on the
symphony of each and every voice.
With the awareness that we participate in a communion that precedes and includes
us, we can rediscover a symphonic Church, in which each person is able to sing
with his or her own voice, welcoming the voices of others as a gift to manifest the
harmony of the whole that the Holy Spirit composes.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 24 January 2022, Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.