8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mar 7, 2019
EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - Rev. Randall P. Patterson
Whenever we go for a medical checkup – one of the things a physician will do - is examine the tongue - “Say ‘ah!” Looking at the tongue - can tell the doctor a great deal. Today’s readings from Sirach and the Gospel speak about the power of the tongue – the power of speech. The tongue can be a sword.
We touch people physically - with a handshake or a pat on the back - how many more people do we touch - with our words. With our words - we can give comfort, strength, encouragement, praise. We can sing with our tongues to the glory of God - or we can hurt people, destroy reputations, spread suspicion and slander.
Our words can clarify and clear the air – they can deceive and create confusion. Words can cause war - or begin the process of peace. Most of our interaction with the world is through words.
We can physically assault a person - and the bodily wounds will heal – but if we verbally abuse someone – our words cut into places deeper than the body – they cut into the heart and soul of a person and those wounds from words don’t heal that easily. We’ve all experienced that.
If we steal money from another person – we can give it back w/interest and that individual will be made whole – more or less. But what if we steal that person’s reputation – his/her good name – can we ever give that back?
Can we call back the words we said – as they continue to travel - to places of which we never dreamed?
They are out of our control. The tongue is only 3” long – but it can do a great deal of damage – and create a great deal of hurt. The Book of Sirach says - in the next chapter after today’s reading - “Many have fallen by the sword – but many more by the tongue.” The tongue is a sword.
The Book of Sirach also calls it a symptom – “From the fullness of the heart – the mouth speaks.” In other words – how we speak to and about others – is a symptom – a pretty good indicator of what is happening in our heart.
As we approach Lent – our readings call us to look not only at our speech – but also at our heart. Are we trying to clear the splinter from another’s eye and missing the beam in our own? What is the condition of our heart?
Is it a Christian heart or a self-absorbed heart – a heart of darkness? Are we using that gift and its power - to heal and to set free - or do we use it - to tear down and destroy? So often – we think of those who do great things for the Lord – the saints who established religious orders – went on great missions – built things.
The word has power for much good – healing – helping - our words can be the word of the Lord to others.
A good word – a Christian word to another – has an effect that will last a lifetime.
Jesus says, “From the fullness of the heart – the mouth speaks.” Sometimes – in a very tense situation – we want to say the right thing. If we give our heart to Christ – and then speak from that heart – we will say the right thing. It may not be the most popular thing – or the most elegant thing – or the most politically correct thing – but it will be the right thing. Our words will carry the word of the Lord. If our heart reflects Christ – so will our words.