First Reading: Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the headland of Pisgah which faces Jericho, and the LORD showed him all the land— Gilead, and as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, the circuit of the Jordan with the lowlands at Jericho, city of palms, and as far as Zoar. The LORD then said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give to their descendants. I have let you feast your eyes upon it, but you shall not cross over.” So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the LORD, died as the LORD had said; and he was buried in the ravine opposite Beth-peor in the land of Moab, but to this day no one knows the place of his burial. Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated. For thirty days the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab, till they had completed the period of grief and mourning for Moses. Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands upon him; and so the children of Israel gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the LORD’s command to Moses. Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land, and for the might and the terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 66:1-3A, 5 & 8, 16-17
Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire! Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; sing praise to the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise. Say to God: “How tremendous are your deeds!” Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam. Bless our God, you peoples; loudly sound his praise. Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. When I appealed to him in words, praise was on the tip of my tongue.
Gospel: Matthew 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.”
When we were little, and someone wronged us, what was typically our first reaction?
To tattle-tale, right?
Someone cuts in front of us in the lunch line? Mrs. Smith gets notified. Someone pushes us down? We scream and let the whole world know. Big brother dismembers our Barbies? Mom's going to get an ear full from us.
When we were little, and someone sinned against us, we usually never went to the source, we went to go tell someone else.
Is that something we've really grown out of, ladies?
Now, while most of us probably no longer have line cutter, shoving down, or stolen toy issues as adults, people still hurt us. People still sin against us. People still tick us off, hurt our feelings, betray us, and treat us poorly.
What is typically our first reaction? I daresay that our first instinct is to go tell someone else how awful the perpetrator is. We want the offense to be made known to third parties because we want the perceived injustice to be affirmed and our egos stroked. We want these third parties, be they girlfriends, parents, spouses, or the store clerk to be on our side, to engage in gossip about another, and to repay a blow with a stronger one.
Jesus is talking to us today, girls, and it's a tough pill to swallow. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone" (emphasis mine).
If someone hurts us, wrongs us, the most logical and most charitable thing to do is to talk directly to them about it. It makes so much sense. Yet how many of us struggle daily to adhere to this command from our Lord?
So let's do this—let's help each other, ok? Let's be together in this. Let's do our part to encourage one another in the giving up of gossip. Let's shut it down.
Because Jesus knows what He's talking about, obviously. He knows that gossip is like a poison that flows out from our hardened hearts, and He wants those hearts to be whole and healed.
How can you encourage the women in your life to go directly to the one who offended them? How can we love one another, and hear one another's frustrations without inviting unnecessary slander? How can we keep our own mouths shut when all we want to do is tell on someone?
Olivia Spears is a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. You can find out more about her here.