The University of St. Thomas Office for Spirituality has been posting (and e-mailing to subscribers) daily reflections during the Advent/Christmas season. Today’s reflection, for the Feast of St. Stephen, was written by my friend Hans Gustafson, Associate Director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning.
Hans acknowledges that seems natural for us to identify with Stephen, “the one being silenced, berated, ignored, beaten and killed.” But he admits that as much as he would like to identify with the persecuted Stephen sometime he is more similar to the “stoners, that is, I am more likely to ‘cover my ears,’ ‘yell at the top of my voice,’ and refrain from listening to those who might experience and interpret the world in ways that run contrary to my own.” Yet he reminds us
In a world of increasing interconnectivity and encounter with the other (cultures, politics, religions, races, etc.), I am reminded of the great need for listening in my own development as a full person. The religious traditions and cultural worldviews that are alive today offer an abundance of resources to help cultivate this seemingly simple, yet most challenging, skill of listening. Many religious traditions teach generally about the divinity of the human person. In our interaction with others, they teach, we interact with the divine, with God. In listening to others, we listen to God. If this is the case, or even in the neighborhood of being the case, I am challenged to uncover my ears, refrain from shouting, and listen … to really listen.
Hans’ challenge is the challenge for all of us: to uncover our ears, refrain from shouting, and to really listen.