“If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.” Ezekiel 33:8-9

Those are scary words. Why? God is asking us to speak to the sinner to try and turn them from their evil ways, and not only that- if we do not at least speak up,we will be held responsible for their death.

Whoa, wait a minute. Who am I to point out others “wicked ways” when I am a sinner myself? I believe that is the bone of contention for most of us. I’m busy pulling logs from my own eyes here, who am I to judge the splinters in others?

The key word here is we are not to judge. The “J” word isn’t even used, and therein lies the rub. We think too often that if we even allude to the fact that a friend or relative may be heading in a direction dangerously close to sinfulness, we are being judgmental of that person. So we remain quiet, or talk to others about it, or worse we close our eyes and mouths to the possibility of saying or doing anything. Why? If we care about the eternal well being of this person, or any person, why won’t we take the risk out of LOVE, to have a conversation?

The actual request is to “…dissuade the wicked from his way.” That means at least trying.

I am learning the importance of listening more. Specifically, listening to others journey, their experience of life, of God, of hurt. When we take the time out of deep love and concern for another, and invite them into dialogue, we can learn much about their journey and the motivations that drive their decisions. Actively listening- not fixing, interrupting, anticipating, or correcting, is really hard. We are so used to doing that- by we, I mean me.

What I am finding is that I am getting a rare and beautiful look at the depth of the other person I am listening to. I get to see their life through their eyes for just a brief time. It is from there that I can begin a dialogue. When someone knows how much I love and care about them, and my authentic concern for their well-being, the possibility of receptiveness arises. It is only there that I can offer an alternative. A person has to be willing and open before I can throw out another option. Closed minds, closed ears, closed hearts do not receive words, they bounce right off like rubber balls on cement. Receptivity is crucial, and that takes time, commitment, love, and lots of prayers.

I attempt to speak more on this here.

Practice love, be patient, and most importantly live a life worthy of imitation. Leave the rest up to Jesus and His wonderful, amazing Mother Mary. As St. Paul writes in Romans 13: 8, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another…” If we act out of love- Love Itself, will open doors.