“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
SUNDAY, July 18th Mk. 6: 30-34 “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”
- “They were like sheep with without a shepherd” and Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them.
- We are called to be a good shepherd to others. To build up rather than to tear down. Too often, we do the opposite, we tear others down with our words, instead of building them up. This is the topic of today’s meditation.
BUILDING UP WITH WORDS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
All of us can remember having been hurt by somebody speaking without thinking and stinging our heart, leaving a lasting bad memory. Also, all of us remember having opened up our mouths without sufficient reflection and wounding our brother, sister or friend! Immediately after the word slipped out of our mouth, we wanted to reel it back in, but no, too late! Once the word has been uttered, there is no “muting”, withdrawing, or preventing its arrival to the ear and heart of the listener.
Jesus speaks very clearly about our words: “Every word that comes out of the mouth will be subject to judgment.” (Mt. 12: 36) St. James dedicates almost an entire chapter (Chapter 3) to the sins of the tongue. In short, the Apostle underscores the importance of learning the art of speech, reminding us that we should be slow to speak and quick to listen. He reminds us that man can control almost all types of animals, but not the tongue! Moreover, he says that the same tongue that is used to praise God, ends up by cursing one’s neighbor. This is wrong!
Therefore, we would like to offer five short suggestions to help us to utilize our tongue, our speech, our words, our conversation as a means to truly edify our neighbor—that means, to build up our neighbor!
First Counsel… We should make it a habit to first talk to God and then talk to our neighbor. It was said of the great St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (among which were St. Albert the Great and his student, St. Thomas Aquinas) that he would first talk to God, and then talk about God to others! Superb! Ideally that should be our motto and objective in life with regard to speech—that our words would in some way be communicating the presence of God to others!
Second Counsel… Think before you speak! St. Ignatius observed that a soul that is agitated is a soul in a state of desolation. When we are in this state it is not the good spirit guiding us but the bad spirit! At these times, it is incumbent upon us to speak only after reflection and with a calm and peaceful mind! Rushed and impetuous words from unclear and muddled ideas often cause confusion and hurt. Avoid it!
Third Counsel… SILENCE! Pope Benedict XVI insisted on the capital importance of cultivating silence in our daily lives. Today we suffer from noise pollution. Radio talk-shows and pop music, non-stop TV programs, add to that endless chatter, often filled with gossip—all of us have experienced these scenarios all too frequently! The Holy Father went so far as to say that if we do not have times of silence in our day, then we really cannot hear or understand the person who wants to talk to us! Silence creates an interior space for listening; listening disposes us for union with the Holy Spirit; finally, the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray and listen attentively and charitably to our brothers and sisters!
Fourth Counsel… A Biblical counsel of great importance: THE GOLDEN RULE! The “Golden Rule” enunciated by Jesus Himself is very simple and everybody in the world understands it: “Do unto others what you want them to do to you.” Why not take the Golden Rule one more step and apply it specifically to our speech. That is, “Say to others what you want them to say to you!” Try it out!
Fifth Counsel… At times it is not clear if what we are saying to others is harmful or beneficial! What can be of great help in this matter is to imagine that during your conversation, given your choice of words, tone of voice and even facial expression, three very important persons are present and listening attentively. These three persons are Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. Now ask yourself: “Are Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph pleased with this conversation?” This is the acid test for followers of Jesus! Are our words pleasing in the sight of God, His Holy Mother, and Good St. Joseph—who never even spoke a word in all of Sacred Scripture?
Conclusion. Jesus said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Also, Jesus warned us that we will be judged on every word that comes out of our mouth. St. James gives us this warning: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
In the Diary of St. Faustina she admitted her three primary faults were: 1) Pride in not being open to her Superior, Mother Irene. 2) TALKING TOO MUCH! She admitted honestly that Jesus revealed to her that at times He preferred her to be silent rather than to speak for two reasons: the person would not profit from her words, and it would be much more beneficial for the souls in Purgatory to have her prayers (in those moments) rather than her conversation. Finally, 3) She did not always observe the Rule faithfully.
Let us remember the challenging exhortation of the Franciscan Doctor of the Church, St. Bonaventure: “We should open our mouths on three occasions: to praise God, to accuse ourselves, and to edify our neighbor.” Faithful to this exhortation, we will surely avoid many slips of the tongue, anoint our words with the Holy Spirit, and store up for ourselves an eternal inheritance in heaven!
May Our Lady, who pondered in her Immaculate Heart before speaking, teach us to magnify the Lord in our words and to truly edify our neighbor! “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”