How we treat each other matters. How we speak to each other or about each other matters. Even how we think about each other matters because our actions come from our thoughts. If we are able to be mindful of how we think we can be more aware of our actions. We do not have to immediately react, we can think before we act. We can discern how what we are about to do will affect the person before us.
One way to put this into practice is to follow the psychologist, Dr. John Gottman’s 5:1 principle. When you think a negative thought about someone and before you share that thought, think and write down five affirming thoughts about that person. Many times we will find that by the time that we get to the fifth compliment we will have forgotten the negative quip.
Jesus is very clear in today’s Gospel from Matthew, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you didfor one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:45). All of us are interconnected. What we do to one another affects everyone. When we throw a stone into the middle of a pond, the ripples of the water circle out to touch the bank and go even beyond the bank. This same ripple effect happens with our thoughts, words, and actions. Our inaction also matters.
When we are moved by the Holy Spirit to reach out to help someone in need, to be more understanding, kind, and to be willing to move beyond our prejudices and biases, and we don’t, we are cutting ourselves off from Jesus. Yet, when we do listen, risk, and move out toward another in love, we put Jesus’ teaching into practice, we begin the healing of our relationship with God, ourselves, and each other.
St. Mother Teresa called this verse her five finger gospel. She taught each person in her order and each person she had the opportunity to pass it on to that each finger on her hand represented the words: you – did – it – to – me. When we entertain a thought today, are about to form a word, and are about to follow through on an action, may we first look at the five fingers of our hand before following through. Would we continue to think the thought, say the word, or follow through on the action if Jesus was in front of us? Because he is. For what we do to each other we do to Jesus.
Give somebody a Gospel five today!
Photo: A CN high five moment!
Dr. John Gottman’s 5:1 principle I learned from Dr. Arthur Brooks’s discussion with Bishop Robert Barron through the Word on Fire Institute. To watch Dr. Brooks talk on loving our enemies and to consider becoming a member of the Institute: wordonfire.institute/bishop-barron-presents-nov-2019/