Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
Friday, September 10th Lk. 6: 39-42 Jesus asked his disciples these two questions: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” And, “Why do notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam on your own?”
- Today, Fr. Ed encourages us to build others up with words, instead of tearing them down. We have meditated on taming the tongue in the not too distant past, but this topic always bears repeating – an Ignatian repetition, if you will. Without constant vigilance, for being the smallest member of the body, our tongue can certainly wreak the most havoc in the lives of others and in our own lives!!!
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 fish it back in, but no, too late! Once the word has been uttered, there is no “muting”, canceling or postponing 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 quick to listen and slow to speak. 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 suggestion! 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 idea! Think before you speak! St. Ignatius observes that an agitated soul is a soul in the state of desolation; in this state it is not the good spirit that is guiding us but the bad spirit! Speak after reflection, with a calm and peaceful mind! Rushed and impetuous words form unclear or muddled ideas that often cause confusion and hurt. Avoid it!
Third, counsel! SILENCE! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI insisted on the capital importance of cultivating silence in our daily lives! Today we suffer from noise pollution! Radio talk-shows, pop music, non-stop TV programs, dogs barking into the late hours of the night, and add to that, non-stop useless chatter, often filled with gossip—all of us have experienced these scenarios all too frequently! Pope Benedict went so far as to say that if we do not have zones of silence, then we really cannot understand the person who wants to talk to us! Silence creates an interior space for listening, and listening disposes us for union with the Holy Spirit, who teaches us to pray and then to listen attentively and charitably to our brothers and sisters!
Fourth, a Biblical counsel of great importance: THE GOLDEN RULE! The “Golden rule” enunciated by Jesus Himself is simple but 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, “Do unto others what you want them to do to you,” but most especially, “Say to others what you want them to say to you!” Try it out!
Fifth, it is not always clear if what we are saying is harmful to others or beneficial. It is not always crystal clear! What could be of great help in this matter is to imagine that during your conversations with others, with your choice of words, tone of voice, and even facial expressions, three very important persons are present listening to your conversation. These three persons are Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! Then ask yourself this question: “If Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph were present during this conversation and listening to my words, would they be nodding a smile of approval?” 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 said 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 mouths. St. James warns us to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
In the Diary of St. Faustina, she admitted her three primary faults were: 1) Pride in not being open to her Superior, 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 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.