Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Art of Miscommunication

August 3, 2017

Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 404

EX 40:16-21, 34-38

PS 84:3, 4, 5-6A AND 8A, 11

MT 13:47-53



I was just watching the movie Moana again.  This time I was watching it in Spanish.  I figured since I know most of the dialogue and song lyrics, this would be a good opportunity for me to pick up a few vocabulary words and common phrases.   It’s interesting to see how our languages are so similar but so different.   What to my English mind is a song about an existential crisis in which a young girl wants to find out who she and her people are, in Spanish becomes “tu lugar.”   Your place.  If I sang a song in English telling a young girl “Get in your place” it wouldn’t go over well.  That’s part of the problem with not understanding the differences in culture and language.  We often talk past each other.  Even using the same words can bring about misunderstanding and confusion.

In times of transition, this can be exceptionally difficult.  I have watched recently as two people spoke to each other.  Both from different backgrounds and experiences.    I found myself agreeing with everything they said to each other.  Yet, both of them misunderstood the other.  They both seemed to have gone away with some injuries, some pain from that conversation.   I’ve watched it repeated throughout my life, especially when something super important is being discussed.  We have to be careful about such things.  When someone has a great deal of joy in something and you take it away, it leaves a scar.   Words are much more than just things that don’t hurt.  

That’s the most interesting thing to me about this parable from Jesus.  A dragnet catches everything.   The good the bad, the food, the detritus   When you drag along the bottom of a river you won’t just find fish but also sludge, slime, and in today’s terms trash.  Jesus doesn’t tell us to start grabbing the trash and throwing it out.   He says to let the wheat and the weed grow together.  It’s not up to you or me to decide who goes in the bucket and who gets thrown back into the ocean.  It’s also not our decision if we are going to be in the bucket either.  We should have faith, hope, and trust… but not arrogance.  

We often want to be the ones who do the sorting.  We humans want to be in control and get the weeds out before the harvest.  We want to be the farmer, instead of the plant.  The fisherman instead of the fish.  The net instead of the one captured in Christ’s loving embrace.  That’s why I think communication is so important.   Do not be afraid to approach the one you hear say something wrong, and say “Wait, I may have misunderstood you.”   Also, when you are misunderstood don’t take it personally.  Above all pray.   Pray before talking.  Pray after talking.  Pray during talking.  Let Jesus be the one who guides your words.

The reading from Exodus today reminds us of a simple truth about God.  He goes where we go.  That’s what a Parish is all about.  It is the Sacred Gathering space that we Catholics go to for worship.   Where two or three are gathered, there He is.    It is the tent of meeting so to speak, the place where the communal worship occurs and Jesus becomes substantially present in the Sacraments to nourish us and guide us.  The most important thing in our lives should be that worship.  Sports, recreation, personal enjoyment, health goals… all of these are secondary.  That doesn’t make them unimportant.. But who is more important than Christ?  Let him be the net.  Let him be the bait.  You just point people to the feeding ground. Point them to the only thing that can heal scar, the grace and mercy of God.