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Stewards of Words

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In a recent homily, Bishop Haines said something quite thought provoking. He said that we are stewards of words.

When I was a classroom teacher, I would often remind my students to mean what they say and say what they mean. I would give them many examples from Scripture where Jesus very clearly says what he means and means what he says. Jesus is rather pointed. He needed to be. He doesn't tell people what they want to hear but what they need to hear.

I learned very quickly as a teacher and as a parent that words matter. I have gotten into my fair share of tangles because I didn't use the right word at the right time.

Now that I am the instructional leader of a school, I am even more aware of how words matter. My words have never mattered so much before. To be a steward of words reminds me to follow my father's rule of "measure twice-cut once" all the more intentionally.

Wisdom is in silence and listening, more than it is in talking. Isn't that why God gave us two ears and one mouth? We need to take care of our words; how we talk and the tone we take. We need to mark ourselves as disciples with how we communicate and interact.

Are our words reflecting who we are as followers of Christ?
Words matter.
Pray for me. I will pray for you.

The Shoes of Others

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I was walking to church. It was a Saturday morning. I was to be an altar server at a wedding. I was in fifth grade. I came past our school and turned toward the church. Seeing me, one of my school mates came racing down the grassy hill in front of school where he had been playing. He came right up to me and punched me in the mouth. He said he hated me because I was a “goody two shoes”. I had no idea what he meant.

I went home after the wedding and told my mother. She said I should pray for him. I did not find that easy, but decided on praying that he would die peacefully of some fatal illness…and do it before Monday.

What does Jesus want from us when he tells us to pray for those who mistreat us? As I grew up, I knew my prayer for my enemy from fifth grade was not right, but often I traded this prayer for wishes that my offenders would change. I prayed that those who mistreated me would think more like I did. In reality, this “mature” prayer for my enemies was no improvement from fifth grade. So what are we to do?

 Jesus tells us: stop judging, stop condemning, stop closing the door to those who hurt you. Jesus calls us to radical empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of others in every encounter we have, joyful or painful.

This is the formula for holiness and believe it or not, peace. Instead of wishing evil upon that boy who punched me in fifth grade, if I had just understood that he was having a real bad day, the incident would not have bothered me so much that I still remember it decades later.

Stop your unwillingness to love, and be healed.

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