So what is Margaret suggesting? Why did her comment cause me discomfort? Because I know she is right. When I share a story about someone else, I put myself in a superior position; schadenfreude seeps in. I understand that an aspect of human nature is to derive pleasure in another’s misfortune, or to take credit for not having such misfortune. And yet, as Christians we are challenged to live another way.
Jesus never told stories about the individuals he knew: he spoke in parables so we might learn ways not to live in sin. When he talked about someone he knew, he spoke directly to that person, as in The Samaritan Woman (John 4:13-19). At the Last Supper, Judas was at the table when Jesus talked about his betrayal.
Following Jesus in this way suggests I must give up that ‘nice’ person way of being, which means I will be different kind of friend--perhaps boring, not much fun. I will be a friend who listens, but who doesn’t respond to comments about a third party. Being a Christian is a challenge. We are called to love, not to sin; we are called not to share concerns about someone who is not at the table.