So, the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire.
As we finish celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ during this Christmas season, many have begun to make their new year resolutions. I have never been big on new year's resolutions because, to be honest, I often fail at keeping them. But there is one very important resolution that I know I need to make this year and I ask all who are reading this to help me in doing so. It is to refrain from all forms of gossip.
Someone once defined gossip as the news you have to hurry to tell someone before you find out it if it's true. How we love to know and share rumors and secrets! The more scandalous they are, the more fun they can be to share. We often forget to stop to consider if it is true, or not. We adjust or fill in the details, exaggerating here and there, so we can get the right reaction and even justify to ourselves telling people who have no business of knowing. This especially seems to happen when we feel we have been wronged by somebody else. We become storytellers of the worst kind.
Pope Francis says that gossip is poisonous, and he even likens it to murder! He said in a recent Sunday Angelus message: "It is so rotten, gossip. At the beginning, it seems to be something enjoyable and fun, like a piece of candy. But in the end, it fills the heart with bitterness and also poisons us." The Holy Father goes on to say that gossip is a sin against the 5th commandment, do not kill, explaining that, "gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person."
The Bible has lots to say about this; here are just a few passages from Scripture that address gossip:
"I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
"You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord."
"Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly."
–2 Timothy 2:16
"He who goes about gossiping reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with one who speaks foolishly."
As one who has worked in the Church for over 20 years in various capacities, it seems that gossip usually continues without any check or anyone calling on anyone else to stop. Gossip can in fact take many forms, such as: murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. Yes, I too have fallen victim to gossip and I hate to admit, I have even participated in it at times. That is exactly why we need each other to do all we can to curtail this in our parish. I have seen gossip destroy people! I have seen it destroy pastors, ministries, and apostolates. Gossip has the capacity of killing trust among us destroying the body of Christ. I am asking you to help me and also challenging you to help each other this year. As you read this now, please commit to stand with me to always be mindful of what we are about to speak. Let's pray and ask our Lord to help us be alert to situations that can easily engage us into a conversation of gossip, as well as to have the courage to not just avoid those who gossip – but to confront them (in a loving way) and shut down this tool of the devil so it won't be able to carry out the mission it was intended for (destroying lives and works of our Lord).
As Catholics here at St. Andrew, we are called to use our words in one very specific way – with love. Let us all ask the Holy Spirit who gives us the grace to be capable of living Divine love in following the greatest commandment: To love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (ref. Luke 10:27). Happy New Year!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bill Marcotte Pastoral Associate