Make Time for Others and Let the Holy Spirit Take It from There

Forget that cellphone or computer — noticing those around us is the Christian thing to do

Let God love others through you. Put the spotlight on them and their interests — and listen to them with love. Then let the Holy Spirit take over from there.

Here’s why I say this. Last month I had a meeting in midtown Manhattan with a corporate executive by the name of Bob Infanger, a member of the Lumen Institute, a business council of which I am a part. Afterward, he and I stopped by the reception desk of the office building to chat with two security guards.

One of them mentioned he had been working the night shift for over 29 years. We listened to him discuss his hard work — and talked about Puerto Rican coffee and had some laughs. I think the workers appreciated that we simply stopped to talk and listen for a few minutes.

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As we walked to Grand Central Terminal, Bob noticed a young man reading a book while leaning on a bike rack. The title of his book was “How to Love.” Coincidentally our Lumen meeting had focused precisely on this topic — of learning to stop and take time to care for others.

Bob asked the young guy about the book — and he replied, “I just finished my workout in the gym and thought I would take some time to read this book — and just be present for anyone who might want to talk. Everyone is so busy! I’m just trying to slow down. I guess it’s happening right now.”

To top it all off, as we entered Grand Central, a woman saw my Roman collar, walked up to me and said, “Father, how do you deal with stress? Do you just give it to God? And how do you recommend handling nasty people who yell at you?”

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I paused and told her, “When it gets tough, I try to love God more. I trust that He will get me through the difficulties. With difficult people, I try to feel compassion — they’re usually coming from a place of hurt and inner turmoil.”

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She smiled and ran off to catch her train.

Sitting down a few minutes later on the train, Bob and I soon met a UPS driver in New York City. When I asked the man if he had any prayer intentions, he mentioned limiting the hours he had to work — he said his days were too long. I prayed to the Lord for this man.

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Finally, as the train carried us northward into Westchester County, a tennis pro I met said to me, “Father, can you pray for my wife and me?” He said his prayer intention was that he, his wife, his child and his mother could all stay united in faith.

Afterward, he thanked me — saying the blessings he received on the train touched his heart.

The opportunities to listen to others and be available to them are endless. All that’s needed is a vow to make it happen.

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders.

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