Aaah, Lent. Time to take stock. Time to stop, pause, and perhaps indulge ourselves in a bit of. . .honesty. I am not predisposed to the morbid or licentious descriptive writing so I will use gossip as my primary example on this brief discussion on vice and sin. It does not take much imagination to substitute the sin of your choice where the word “gossip” occurs making slight modification to account for the circumstantial variables. Vice is vice and to be dominated by vice is vicious.
Today’s Gospel spoke of the beam in your own eye juxtaposed to the splinter in your neighbor’s. Lent is all about removing planks from your own eye, and with love and compassion helping your neighbor to do the same. Clear vision is a path we must walk together with our eyes fixed on Christ.
Blind should not lead blind. Both will fall into the pit. If you can see clearly enough to see Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, then you need not follow another, follow Him, and if you are following Him, even if you have another in tow, you need not lead. This, the idea that one man should follow any other man than Jesus is mere folly. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life–you need no other. For myself, I am pretty thick so I need a lot of help to see Jesus. Being a consecrate to the Blessed Virgin and having been dedicated to Her at my Baptism, I rely pretty heavily on Her discernment and guidance in my day to day, moment to moment life. I am Her servant but do not follow Her. I serve the Blessed Mother knowing that Her eyes are fixed firmly on Jesus and She will never lead me astray.
Let us now consider our blindness. First, if I may, allow me to remind you that Jesus said: You will be called to give an accounting for every idle word you have spoken. This is a most important concept for there are words we speak with our mouth and words we put forth in our actions and example. St. Francis of Assisi said: Preach the Gospel always. Only if necessary use words. These two statements essentially mean the same thing. All our actions as Catholic Christians should be living icons of the Gospel Truth–the Truth which is Jesus; all our words should be truthful and edifying thus, by their very nature, be words of praise of God in thanksgiving for His Great Glory (Gloria in excelsis Deo).
. . .and then there is Gossip. I shy the cute stories of plucked chickens and cut open pillows, but their meaning is not lost. Gossip is perhaps one of the most insidious sins there is because it is common, non-sensational, and believed to be venial and the least harmful. Quite the contrary, because it seems these things, we are more easily ensnared by it then any of the others. We tell ourselves it is merely a discussion amidst confidants. Perhaps I have said this before: If you find yourself justifying yourself to yourself, most likely you are sinning. Disturbingly even after full repentance with genuine sorrow the word spoken continues to move. Words of themselves are fruits and a fruit’s sole purpose is to lay seed, which grows into trees to bears fruit and so on–you get the picture. To isolate another person from the “good” people with whom you keep company (assuming they are in fact good people) is harmful to you, to your company, and most of all to the person who is the object of cruel and oftentimes untrue, biased, and/or incomplete pictures of him in that, if the people with whom you associate are good, he would benefit from exposure. Further, if it is only your experience or a moment of encounter, how can you be certain that you understand that person? Do you know the story?
Perhaps an even greater danger to gossip is that it creates delight in an evil and builds a “closer and trusting relationship between conspirators.” Not only are you committing a sin by slandering another, but you are teaching a vice by providing a psychological and social pay-off to another person for his or her participation in your vice. Even by merely listening to gossip, without contributing, you are allowing the gossiper to take pleasure in telling their tales and thus reinforcing the behavior; perhaps incurring an even greater guilt on yourself than gossip itself as you are encouraging, aiding, and abetting another in their sin. You are in essence teaching another to sin! How will you answer for that before the Just Judge?
More simply put: Judgement and gossip are greats sin manifest in the delighting in the evil of maligning, alienating and marginalizing another child of God; the sense of society and belonging to an self-appointed elite; the feelings of power and validated ego over another; and the propagation of negative and sinful behavior by creating in “friends” the benefits described above (of course, no one would lead a true friend into sin nor would a true friend allow one to persevere in one’s sin) . If I enjoy gossip and demonstrate to you that it is a “fun and innocent” thing to do so that you emulate the behavior, I have misled myself, I have misled you, and I have misled any you influence. I am the blind creating blind followers. How will any of us escape judgement? Moreover, if you do not follow my lead, but participate by merely listening, will you not be called to account for my soul as well? Should you have not at least not provided me with occasion to sin? Should you have not corrected me in charity? Are we not one another’s keepers?
Let us pray:
O Lord, through thee Immaculate Heart of Mary, we beseech You to grant us the discernment of knowing when to speak and when to remain silent. Let it be that we come to know all that we say either praises You or is the sin of blasphemy. We know Your Most-Holy Son, Jesus Christ, is the Word and for man who is created in Your Image to speak an unkind or untrue word blasphemes Your Son. Lord grant that in every breath I exhale I glorify You with the truth spoken in love for the purpose of uplifting and freeing all creation. Let me not only speak in love, but grant that I be love so that my going out into the world, I may bring Your Love to it.
May Almighty God bless you; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Copyright 4 March 2019