This past Sunday’s readings were indeed challenging in many ways. Even our Holy Father had in Monday’s Catholic New Agency’s website, words that spoke to those readings, but not so much in how to challenge the person who has wronged us or the community, but having to do with the typical tendency to gossip about matters rather than go directly and only to the person(s) involved. The question then becomes, “Who is the bigger sinner?” The one who sinned against someone or the one who has made the matter one of gossip? Those who are gossips rarely seem to acknowledge the seriousness and sinful nature of their behavior. Of course, as we all know, social media has not made the problem less, but in fact has made it much worse. The “gossip” doesn’t even have to face another person when doing so, they can do it from the hiding place of their computer or cell phone.
If one has not first and only gone to the person they feel has wronged them, but instead chooses to simply gossip about the matter to others, most often they do not know or convey the actual facts, nor are they aware of the other person’s side of the story, to maybe own some of the problem themselves. But they seem not to care if they are prone to being a gossip. It is very destructive of a community and a scandal within a faith community who is expected to be an example to others by its very nature. Their sin is therefore even greater.
How important it is to face the assumed “wrongdoer” to be certain they are in the right (themselves)! One should not forget the other very serious prohibition from Scripture, “Don’t miss the beam in your own eye while you focus on the speck in another’s eye.”
Over the years of being in many different parishes, my observation is that there are many occasions where someone who feels they have been wronged fail to go to the one who has wronged them, to hear their side of the story. Even then, often the person who has had their feelings hurt will refuse to take on any blame themselves for the matter, but instead leave the parish and therefore never truly resolve the issue in their own life. If they have any conscience at all, the issue will continue to haunt and hurt until dealt with in integrity. Often too, the one who is angry will gossip the matter, but only from their perspective, thus taking other sympathetic friends with them, possibly causing a rift or dissolution of many years of relationship with the given parish. It is not at all uncommon, and happens in every parish, believe me. It is destructive and breaks down the Body of Christ, the Church—but often, those responsible will feel no shame for their actions, in fact, even continue to take Communion (as if they are at that point “in Communion” with Christ and His Church).The Church is fractured, just as it is when those who left the one true Church did so, beginning church after church after church, all calling themselves Christian. Are they really if all they have done is fracture the unity of the Church? But the ego will most often let the person do so without conscience.
Forming attitudes and conscience founded on the spirit of Jesus as we discover these in the Gospels are important for faith communities when shaping policies and defining mission goals. We need to be familiar with the Gospel message. As Pope Francis reminds us all, “Keep the Gospel on your cell phone!” ~Fr. John