I love the ease with which Pope Francis preaches in this Rome Reports video from earlier today as he celebrates Mass with employees of Argentinian embassies and consulates in Italy:
While the video doesn’t give the full context of the Pope’s homily, I would imagine that his remarks — preached in Spanish for the first time since he became our Holy Father — were inspired by today’s Gospel according to Matthew. He told those assembled that even nicknames, including those used playfully, can be insulting.
“I would like to ask the Lord to give us all the grace to guard our words, to watch what we say about others. It is a small penance, but it bears a lot of fruit.”
He goes on in his preaching to remind us to adapt ourselves to a “new law”, that is the law of patience, the law of love, the law of peace. I wondered as I was watching him preach, after reading from Matthew, how he so frequently knows the sins I bear within my soul. Matthew reminds us to watch our mouths too today in his fifth chapter as he quotes Jesus’ teaching:
You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
So often I walk around thinking things that would have me “liable”. I’m trying to retrain my old brain to flee from these thoughts, to never give way to verbalizing them. Most who know me probably would think I do ok at that, but I’d prefer that thoughts of judgment of others not even be born in my brain in the first place. Let the space that negativity takes be filled with Christ’s love, with creative passion for helping others, and with words that edify and build up rather than dragging down.
The trick is being well versed in the “law” enough that hurtful thoughts and words are crowded out, unable to take root. I’m still working on that, but with teaching like this the challenge seems easier to accomplish.
A question for you: To you fall prey to making negative remarks or comments about others? How have you worked on avoiding this particular sin?