Years ago, I was a Missionary Director for a Catholic Movement in Arizona. We followed a set of “Rules of Life” based on Saint Benedict’s Rule which helped me prayerfully form the community and mediate conflicts.
When missionaries would come to me with their communal drama, I would ask them two simple questions before they shared:
1) Is what you are about to say going to change my opinion of someone?
2) Have you already brought this situation to them?
Christ gives us an incredible model in Matthew’s Gospel (18:15-20) to overcome the sin of gossip. Instead of talking behind someone’s back, Jesus asks us to go directly to the person we have fault with and talk.
If they listen, fantastic!
If they don’t, invite one or two neutral souls into the conversation, being careful not manipulate the dialogue. This allows for unbiased ears to hear the testimony of each person so resolution and healing can be accomplished. After all, that is the goal, isn’t it?
Finally, if that does not work, “tell the Church” (Matthew 18:17). What does this mean? I believe God is telling us to seek the wisdom of the Church however it is available to you. I have taken conflicts to my spiritual director, met with a priest to mediate, turned to Scripture to hear God speak to my wounded heart, and gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Saint Benedict’s Rule reminds us that Christ is present in each person we encounter. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Everyone must be loved, respected (the Rule 4) listened to (the Rule 3) and received as Christ (the Rule 53). Everyone without exception is to be treated with gentleness and compassion (the Rule 64:36).
So, the next time you’re tempted to gossip, ask yourself the two questions above and turn to Saint Matthew for wisdom. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:15:20).Christ is present. // @SoCalTriciaT Click To Tweet