An important practice in Ignatian Spirituality (often called “the plus sign”) is to give others the benefit of the doubt, or to interpret their words positively rather than negatively. It is a temptation when we feel threatened or insecure to project our emotions onto another person. How often have I misinterpreted someone’s comment, claiming it to be criticism, when it was merely my own fear of being criticized that caused me to interpret it that way? How often has envy caused me to label someone incorrectly in an effort to build myself up?

The first reading highlights this sinful inclination: “These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God.” God often speaks to us through the people in our lives. How can we humbly interpret others’ words so we do not miss out on the hidden counsels of God?

—Sarah Otto received her M.Div from Boston College. She currently serves as director of the Newman Catholic Center in Chico, CA.