November 17, 2013 - 33rd Sunday - Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Saint Paul’s words are as true today as they were 2000 years ago:
Some among us are conducting themselves in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy. Rather they are minding the business of others.
Elsewhere Saint Paul says these idlers go about from house to house gossiping. Sounds familiar?
Well, town gossips go all the way back to the beginning of creation.
Even the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament says that you shall not go around as a gossip among the people.
Typically, busy bodies are small people trying desperately to be big people. These petty individuals have no lives of their own, so they want to control ours.
Almost everyone has to deal with someone who is petty and mean-spirited. Moses did. Jesus did. I know I do. When I visit with my brother priests, I discover that they do too.
So what’s the remedy?
We cannot control someone else’s behavior, but we can learn to control our own. If we want to be more like Jesus, then controlling our response is a good place to start.
First, we can resist the urge to be defensive. Jesus was never dragged into a conflict. If he took on the town gossip or a mean-spirited Pharisee, we did it willingly.
We tend to get dragged into all kinds of things that are really none of our business. We can learn to smile, ignore and remain detached.
There’s no need for us to be defensive. We don’t have to fight small battles with petty people. Our lives are bigger and better than that.
Second, we can try to understand that this is not about us. It’s about them. It’s not our fault that some people are busy bodies.
There is no need for us to take responsibility for the bad behaviors of others. We should feel sorry for them and learn from their bad examples. Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies.
Third, we should guard against becoming angry. It’s not helpful.
We should be secure and comfortable enough in our own skin to not let the actions of others make us angry.
We can choose how we respond. We can choose to be happy and enthusiastic.
And finally, we can strive to be the opposite of the busy bodies. We can mind our own affairs. We can be tolerant. We can be patient. We can be humble. We can be kind.
Busy bodies are always looking for impending doom.
If we go looking for impending doom, we will find it because it is all around us: political unrest, violence, natural disasters, family problems, sickness, disease, stress.
We could easily work ourselves into panic attack after panic attack.
We could easily focus on the never ending list of disasters all around us.
We could easily focus on one Saint Martinville crisis after another, always checking facebook for the latest gossip.
Remember that Facebook is not an important part of who you are. If it is, then go get some help.
And if you are a young person, resist the urge to bully people online. The internet is not anonymous.
We shouldn’t fume over facebook comments. Mine are disabled.
We shouldn’t get involved in facebook drama. Learn to log out from time to time.
We can be above all the busy bodiness that swirls around us.
We can bear witness to the wisdom of God, the providence of God, the kindness of God, the love of God.
Busy bodies allow the circumstances of life to control them.
We come here because we seek comfort in times of trouble.
We seek strength to help us through the difficult times.
We seek grace to help us choose kindness when dealing with difficult people.
Saint Paul reminds us to remain faithful to God, to persevere in goodness and in holiness, and to leave judgment to the Lord.
It’s easy to be swept away by the gossipiness of the busy bodies who are al around us.
The scripture readings today call us to a different way of life.
Saint Paul reminds us that the love of God calls us live our lives quietly, bringing about good, bring about the kingdom of God.