Nothing will draw you back into a homily like a reprimand. All it took one morning at daily Mass was for my pastor to say, “It’s none of your business,” and any eyes that were fixated on the ground, the stained glass, or the back of someone’s T-shirt shot forward to Father. And I don’t use the word shot lightly. Ask any priest. The truth isn’t always easy to hear, and some parishioners aren’t so good at hiding their discontent.
“It’s none of your business,” he said. It’s a good thing I was listening to what Father said before this. Sure, there are times when distractors avert our attention from Christ—and we’d be foolish to count our time in Mass as an exception (the JPII quote on the back of that guy’s T-shirt is sometimes way too tempting to ponder)—but I thank the Holy Spirit that this was not one of those times.
That morning’s first reading came from Chapter 12 of the Book of Numbers, and my pastor was comparing ourselves to the jealous Aaron and Miriam. Father summarized those first thirteen verses of the chapter for the congregation, imagining that the conversation between the two siblings could be translated into something along the lines of, “Why does God always pick Moses to do the prophesizing?”. You could probably add a sigh or a whine somewhere in there, too.
If Father had been present during their discussion, he would have told Aaron and Miriam that it wasn’t any of their business. And he would have been right. Any time we challenge the will of God, we usually end up making fools of ourselves, like Moses’ brother and sister did. (Take note, siblings.) When we leave ourselves to our own devices, it becomes easier to replace God with envy and pride.
Spending about as much time in youth ministry as I do at home, I’ve met some remarkable men and women of God—Moseses, let’s call them—many of which I’ve had the opportunity to be jealous of. I’ve caught myself Miriam-ing during retreats when one particular Moses had a profound experience, or during Adoration when another Moses looked deeper in prayer than I, or during a meeting with whole bunches of Moseses who simply had better ideas than I did.
“Why, Lord,” I’d ask, “did you allow her to sing in Tongues, grant him that vision, and provide them with those ideas, instead of me?” What Aaron, Miriam, and I forgot during our bouts of childish envy was that “[God] gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Our Father grants us the graces we need to perform the specific mission He specifically created each of us to fulfill.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa delivers this reminder in his book Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, claiming, “The Church encompasses other realities that are different for each person, that is, ministries and charisms. These are expressions of the richness, the dynamism, the variety of the Church. They make the Church not only a well-structured and connected body but also a body structured according to the strength of each member.” God made it clear to the Israelites that He chose Moses as the “prophet among them,” but that didn’t mean Aaron and Miriam weren’t called to build up His Church some other way.
Of all the parishioners in Mass that day, I’d bet the only one who smiled after Father shared those five words was the woman next to me. My mother couldn’t help but giggle at God’s impeccable humor and timing, because just the night before, we’d encouraged each other to do our own jobs and to do them well. Scripture just had a more beautiful way of revealing that message to us.
Our pastor, on the other hand, put it frankly. And I wouldn’t mind minding my own business, if it meant God has His own perfect plan, His own little gifts, His own unique mission saved up just for me.
About Lindsay Gray
Little sister, faithful daughter, fortunate granddaughter. College nerd. Future author. Disney enthusiast. Pope Francis fanatic. Above all these: child of the King.