It is an “apostolate of the ear”, which listens before speaking. And to hope, in the reciprocity of listening, the possibility of walking together, of dreaming the same dream, of offering alternatives for the future.
As in no other time, today we experience the very human need to listen and be listened to. Young people’s capacity for prophecy, their ability to look to the future with hope and confidence, teach us to know how to value where the other wants to go, seeing the needs, desires, limitations, fears, anxieties and hopes of each one. Pope Francis tells us that “the sign of this listening is the time I dedicate to the other. It’s not a question of quantity, but that the other feels that my time is his: all the time he needs to manifest what he wants. He must feel that I am listening to him unconditionally, without being offended, scandalized, bored or tired” (Christus vivit, 292). It is an “apostolate of the ear”, which listens before speaking. And to hope, in the reciprocity of listening, the possibility of walking together, of dreaming the same dream, of offering alternatives for the future. Only those who are willing to listen are free to renounce their partial and insufficient point of view and walk forward, allowing themselves to be questioned. And the truth is that young people often do not feel listened to. They feel that we “fill their ears” instead of opening our hearts. But youngsters must be taken seriously! Too often they are left alone. And because they are not listened to, naturally, they don’t want to listen either. If they are neither accepted nor found, why should they listen to those who impose themselves, who want to control, who prefer to keep themselves “at a safe distance”? Listening to the young and sincere cry requires attention, getting out of the comfort zone and being. In the last General Chapter of the Salesians, one of the most beautiful expressions used by the young participants was that, if it is true that young people need to be accompanied by Salesians, Salesians also need to be accompanied by young people, in an exercise of closeness, empathy, time shared, life together. And for this mutual accompaniment, the basic condition is “listening and being listened to”. One and the other. Adults and young people: together!