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From a Recovering People Pleaser

September 6, 2020   Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 127)

Reading 1   EZ 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2   ROM 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Alleluia   2 COR 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. 
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. 
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

By Mary Susan Delagrange

Lately, my experience of social media has been a bit of a dumpster fire. There are so many voices clamoring with their particular version of truth. There’s so much condemnation, finger pointing, shaming, and cancelling. Every viewpoint seems to have irrefutable evidence that their way is right and everyone else is wrong. My mind absolutely spins trying to sort it all out. Do I speak up? Do I step back and make space for other voices? Do I engage in debate or let it go? Where do I fit in the melee? Do I even want to fit into the melee?

Today’s readings are particularly challenging for me. I’m a recovering people pleaser. I don’t like to rock the boat or have people upset with me. I hate being misunderstood and I hate conflict even more. Yet God tells me in scripture that I’m called to speak truth and to speak it boldly. What’s more, if I fail to speak up, I am directly responsible for the repercussions of my silence.

Oof. That’s a tough one to swallow.

It’s clear that it’s my responsibility to speak God’s truth unflinchingly into the world regardless of perception, outcome, or popularity. Truth is truth, whether it’s received gladly or not. The truth doesn’t exist to make me popular, well-liked, or to elicit warm fuzzy feelings on my Instagram account. If I refuse to speak up out of fear, that sin of omission has direct and eternal consequences. 

Now, I can psych myself into boldness, strapping on that armor of God, preparing to do battle, wielding my keyboard like a weapon. However, there’s a fine line between sharing truth in love and crusading around the internet smashing others down under the guise of accountability. It’s easy for me to view these scriptures as an opportunity to further my own agenda or put someone in their place, but that misses the mark by a long shot. 

God’s truth is not one of division, accusation, finger pointing, or hate.

When I feel myself getting riled up and the self-righteousness rising in my spirit, I have to check my intentions. Have I allowed my hardened heart to blind me to the truth of His Sacred Heart? If I’m honest, the answer many times is yes. I am 100% guilty of letting pride and bitterness lead me to sin and fooling myself into thinking that I’m the one who’s right.

I’m not a theologian or a politician. I don’t have all the answers, but I can say with certainty that speaking God’s truth is infinitely less about my own biases, political agendas, or worldview, and more about obedience to Christ in love. Loving my neighbor beyond their Twitter rant, seeing them as a whole person created for greatness, engaging them with respect and dignity even when we don’t agree, that’s where love fulfills the law.

Somehow, I have to find a way to live in the tension.

I’ve been charged with speaking truth, but doing so in love. The ultimate truth is that I am both the messenger sentinel and the straying sinner who desperately needs to hear Him calling me. The only answer I can find is to cling to Jesus and to speak boldly of a love that is deeper than my fear and stronger than my pride. Practically speaking, this means making time for prayer and Scripture study each day so that God’s truth is at the forefront of my mind. It also means that I'm called to look at my social media presence through the lens of prudence and temperance.

Before interacting with others I need to ask myself, "Is my response kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve upon the silence? Do my words remind the other person of their belovedness?"

Making sure I take the time to thoughtfully approach others helps me avoid self-righteous keyboard crusading or making rash comments that I can’t take back.

Ultimately, finding my place in the midst of all the discontentment and confusion in the world is a task that requires vigilance and prayer. I know I have and will probably continue to make plenty of mistakes, say things I wish I hadn’t said, and stay silent when I wish I’d have spoken up. But it’s only through pursuing Christ with an obedient spirit that I’ll find my way. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Mary Susan Delagrange is a professional juggler. She juggles four kids, a butcher husband, a highly excitable labradoodle, her birth doula business, and blogs about it all at. A native Texan living in Ohio, she spends her days dreaming of real Mexican food, journaling, drinking too much coffee, and escaping to run in the woods whenever she gets the chance. You can find out more about her here.  

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