If you’re part of some sort of group that comes together, you’ll definitely understand what I’m talking about. It could be a book club or people getting together to play cards. It could be a coffee group that meets every morning, or even a prayer group that meets weekly. Or it could be something as simple as you and your coworkers in the break room at work. Regardless of the group, whenever people get together for a conversation, it is possible that someone is saying something that is bothering someone else in the group. Especially in these times.
I know this happens to me all the time. And I have to say, without pride, that there are many times in these situations where I would like to look the person in the eye and say “how come you have to talk about THIS?” “
Sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it? But I guess a lot of you can relate. And yet I often say things that others probably roll their eyes from time to time. Of course I say things that irritate people or make them angry or annoy them or whatever! Of course, sometimes I probably make others think “why did he have to talk about THAT?” “
Many of us act this way all the time, especially in these difficult times of a pandemic. OUR problems are important, and we want others to take note, maybe even help us overcome them.
The problems of others are another story. Many of us just don’t want to be bothered. “And many rebuked him, telling him to shut up,” we hear Mark in the scripture passage about the blind man approaching Jesus and wanting help. Others, instead of treating him with compassion, kindness and understanding, just want him to shut up. It’s like they’re telling him, “Stop bothering us.” Go away. Who do you think you are? “
Why are we doing this? Why do we sometimes trivialize the concerns of others, or ignore them altogether? Sometimes it might be because we don’t like the packaging it comes in.
What I mean by that is, maybe we don’t like the person that much. Maybe we don’t like the WAY their message is delivered or the MEANS they try to be heard – the words they use, the level of their voice, the places they choose to express their feelings. concerns or perhaps even the content of their complaint.
Instead of focusing on whether the other person needs, suffers, or pleads for some kind of understanding or compassion, maybe even for something as difficult as societal change, we are distracted by all of them. the other things. We do not remember that the person standing in front of us is our brother or sister who is loved by God and deserves our attention, care and love.
In reflecting on this, we must ask ourselves: Are the concerns of others a problem? Are the complaints of others annoying? Are other people’s problems only important if they are also MY problems?
Or does God expect something more from us? Let each of us make sure that it is not us who silence others. On the contrary, may we come to understand that the concerns of others are important to God, and therefore should be important to us too. It’s that simple. Doubly important in these times when we need to support each other and help each other through the challenges that lie ahead.
Deacon Stuart Neslin is a ward deacon and ward administrator at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rome.