Suffering for Doing Good
Opening Question: Do you know someone who did something good and got in trouble for it? What happened?
First Reading: Numbers 11:24-29
Ryan worked hard in school that warm fall day and he was tired. With ten minutes left, he waited patiently for the school bell to ring. Suddenly, someone tapped him and handed him a note. "Can you help me with homework?" the note said. It was signed "Kevin." Ryan nodded "Yes."
When the final bell rang, Kevin walked over to Ryan, only to be met by the teacher. "Kevin," the teacher asked, what did your note say to Ryan?" "I wanted help with the homework," Kevin replied. "Since I ride the bus, I wanted his attention before the end of class."
The teacher then glared at Ryan. "Ryan, when are you going to stop helping Kevin?" the teacher demanded. Ryan didn't know what to say. He didn't understand why he was in trouble for helping his friend with his homework.
It's hard for us to understand why people get mad at us for doing good things. Sometimes they don't understand, sometimes they think you are doing someone else should do, sometimes they are jealous of your good actions. In today's story, Joshua got mad at two young people for these reasons. But that did not stop them. And it should stop us for doing good things for others.
Bridging Question: Have you ever heard people put-down others at school? Was the put-down deserved? Why or way not?
Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
John said Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone using your name to throw devils out of people. Since he wasn't one of us, we tried to stop him!"
"Don't stop him!" Jesus replied. "There is no one who will use my name to do powerful things one minute and speak evil about me the next. Whoever does not make himself my enemy is my friend. Whoever gives you a drink of water from a cup because you follow the Christ will be paid back. I guarantee it!
But, the person who scandalizes even the smallest that trust me would be better off if he had a large stone placed around his neck and was thrown into the sea before he caused the scandal.
If your hand causes you scandal, cut if off! You'd be better off if you entered eternal life without a hand than have two hands and suffer in hell, where the fire never ends.
If your foot scandalizes you, cut it off! You'd be better off if you entered eternal life with one foot than have two feet and be thrown into hell.
If you eye causes you scandal, cut it out! You'd be better off if you entered God's Kingdom without an eye than have both eyes and be thrown into hell.
In hell, 'the worm does not die and the fire never goes out!'"
"Did you hear what happened to Sam?" the whisper began. "Oh, NO!" people responded. "Tell us more!"
Whispers and gossip. Talking behind other's backs. These cause scandal. People talk quietly among themselves, point fingers, and act shocked. "OH, NO!"
The whispers and gossip about Sam started with a simple act of kindness. Sam was walking down the school hallway when she stopped to help Rosanni pick up her books. Taking a few moments, Sam struck up a conversation with the shy girl. Speaking with a strange accent, Rosanni told Sam she was born in a country far away. This was her first day in her new American school. Rosanni's dark skin and curly black hair were completely different than Sam's pale skin and straight blonde hair. As Sam walked Rossani to her new classroom, she could help notice people staring at the new girl. No one had ever seen someone quite like her before.
As the days went on, Rossani sought out Sam on the playground during lunch. The girl was too shy to make new friends. Sam began to enjoy the new girl's company. Soon, they were exchanging phone numbers, calling each other after school, and hanging around with each other on the weekends.
Others began to notice the girls were friends. "What's Sam doing hanging around with that girl?" someone whispered. "Why is that Rosanni girl here?" another complained in a low voice. The whispers grew as others complained behind the girls' backs.
Soon, Sam got the message that others did not like her hanging around with Rossani. People began to sit away from the two girls and began to whisper in front of them. Finally, Sam had enough. She right walked up to a group of whispering girls and complained, "Many of you used to sit with me and eat lunch together. Now, it's just Rosanni and me. What's going on?"
The girls fell silent and began to look around as if Sam and Rosanni did not exist.
"Some friends you are!" Sam said and stomped off.
Sam and Rossani became friends with a simple act of kindness. But, because Rosanni looked different, people whispered. Whispering, talking behind others' backs, and silence can hurt others. And, cause friendships to end.
Jesus recognized that whispering, gossip, and shock hurt others. He told his followers not to stop the good others do, even in the name of the Lord. And he told them not to look at or walk toward things that cause others to talk.
Stop scandal. Try to be nice. And be careful what you say in whispers. This way you can live the way Jesus wants you to live
Closing Question: How can you help people to stop whispering about others?