We live in a very negative culture, and putting people down has become a habit for many. Verbal abuse has become commonplace in social media, and hurling insults has become a national pastime. Making sarcastic and destructive remarks about others has become the new normal for humor. The goal in each instance is to hurt someone’s feelings, and that goal must be abandoned because it is clearly immoral.
We have words in our scriptures which go against that culture. Paul says, “Encourage each other and build each other up.” (First Thessalonians 5:11) He also says, “No foul language should come out of your mouths. Let your words be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29) And in Romans 15:2, he says, “Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up our neighbor.”
We must replace the culture of negativity with a positive culture: the culture of giving encouragement and building each other up. And now is a good time to start because we are in a season of gift giving: graduations, first communions, weddings, confirmations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. In addition to giving physical gifts, we can give gifts of encouragement. We can speak words of affirmation at home, at school, at work and on social media. In addition, we can give others a listening ear. When you listen carefully, you are saying, “You are a very important person. I value what you have to say. You matter to God and to me.”
Fr. Jerry Schik, osc, serves the Catholic churches of Wahkon, Vineland, Onamia and Hillman. Column reprinted from the May 1, 2019 edition of the Mille Lacs Messenger.