No Discouraging Word

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

There is a very old song that I thought was very American (USA), but as I reviewed it, it is also very human. The title of the song is “Home on the Range,” and goes like this: Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, Where the deer and the antelope play, Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, And the sky is not cloudy all day [(Brewster Higley, 1876; Music: Daniel E. Kelly), (John A. Lomax (1910) ….And the skies are not cloudy all day.)]

A person can ruin his family and community when:

a) He thinks that everyone is no good for him or thinks that he is not good enough for anyone. He thinks that he has no good qualities and no potential. So, he looks for places where people do not know him and hopes not to hear a discouraging word.

b) Every word that he says and hears is defective and discouraging. So every situation is gloomy, and the sky is always cloudy all day.

c) He lies, cheats, and manipulates events and other people just to bring out a good image of himself. Having a good self-image does not necessarily mean that a person is honest or faithful to his family and the community. It can also mean that he is hiding his defects to avoid other people’s scrutiny.

What can you do?

a) Count your blessings. There’s only one “you,” one “me” and one “us” in the world. You cannot be duplicated, nor can anyone else duplicate families and communities. People are not like the plants or the animals or the fishes. Just as no fingerprints are the same, each one is one of a kind. You are God’s masterpiece. Thank the Lord and Creator for what you are and for all the gifts that you have. To discourage anyone or to say anything offensive to anyone is judging badly the Creator and Master of the world. In our second reading today, St. Paul says,

whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the church of God (1Cor 10:31-32).

 b) Decide to say only encouraging words that bring hope, and that you see every situation as opportunity to learn and to grow in community. Remove any tendency that brings discouragement. Words can encourage, but they can also break persons and make a long list of dishonest and bitter citizens. So, if you have nothing good to say to your neighbor, don’t open your mouth. You will save a lot of friends. They are your treasure. St. Paul exhorts us:

encourage one another and build one another up…. respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you…. Be at peace among yourselves…. admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all…. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good (both) for each other and for all (1 Thes 5:11-15).

 c) In humility share your blessings with others. Recognize your blessings, and be honest about them. In his letter to the Colossians, St. Paul says,

Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance (3:23-24).

So, read the Bible, and let it talk to you, for it carries only encouraging words. Pray, for it works. Be open to your community and to the Church, for it brings joy and encouragement.

Despite our littleness and our sinfulness, Jesus extends His hands to us and touches us. When we open ourselves to Him, especially in the Eucharist, we learn to love His Words, we learn to avoid discouraging words and we give hope to His people. We don’t have to sell our house to find a home on the range or to find kinder hearts somewhere, because people will come and build their homes beside ours, where no discouraging word is heard, and the sky is not cloudy all day, for we are the Temples of God.

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